Those of you who were out last night celebrating the end of 2015 and welcoming in 2016, spare a thought for me. So dedicated am I to the rock and metal cause that I spent the night at home, continuing with my ‘Album of the Year 2015’ top 30 countdown. Of course, it might also have something to do with having two children under four, one of which who was ill and a dog who was scared of the fireworks…but I prefer the former excuse. It makes me sound more dedicated and hardcore. Besides, the choice for this post is an absolute belter and begged to be written.
As always, a reminder to new readers that my choices from 30 down to 8 can be accessed via links at the bottom of this post. The choices cover a wide range of different styles within the rock/metal world, so hopefully there’ll be something new to discover or something to disagree with me about. I look forward to hearing from you!
So, let’s not leave you in suspense any longer. My choice at number 7 is…
‘Love, Fear And The Time Machine’
Those more familiar with my blog and my tastes will know that Riverside and I share an interesting, some might say ‘chequered’ history. I was blown away by the Polish prog rockers’ debut record ‘Out Of Myself’ but from then on, my love affair waned as the albums came and went. ‘Second Life Syndrome’ was good but not great, whilst I felt like a lone voice in the wind in disliking the overly heavy and melody-lacking ‘Anno Domini High Definition’. It got to the point where I was no longer interested in what the Poles were doing anymore. I knew that here was a talented band that I wanted to like but apathy reigned supreme. That is until I was forced to listen to ‘Shrine Of New Generation Slaves’, to review it for Powerplay magazine. I’m glad I did listen too, because it remains a very good record indeed. Naturally, with interest restored, I looked forward rather eagerly to album number six, ‘Love, Fear And The Time Machine’.
After about two spins, I told my boss at the day job that I wasn’t keen and felt a little let down. This was foolish in the extreme and far to presumptuous on my part. I hadn’t given it enough time. As such, I was on the verge of prematurely shelving it and with it, my rediscovered admiration for Riverside. A few more attentive listens however, and this initial disappointment was well and truly banished, like a naughty child. ‘Love, Fear And The Time Machine’ is, in fact, arguably the quartet’s best release to date.
Each album from Riverside offers something a little different from what went before. In this case, the response was to distance themselves from the overtly 70s influences that dominated ‘Shrine…’. Instead, this record shares much more with the 80s, as admitted by Mariusz Duda himself in interview. As a result, the keys are not quite so dominant, with the bass and six-string guitar playing a much more prominent role. The other noticeable difference is the further increase in the melodies and the immediacy of the compositions. Sounds like a bit of a contradiction given my early dislike of the record but there is certainly a greater focus on strong melodies and powerfully-written compositions that stick in the mind long after the album has finished. That and the fact that this record sounds rich, warm and inviting.
The album opens up with the neo-prog rock sounding ‘Lost (Why Should I Be Frightened By A Hat?)’ and from that moment on, there’s no let-up in the brilliance delivered by ‘Love, Fear And The Time Machine’. ‘#Addicted’ is a gorgeous track, hugely influenced by the ‘Out Of Myself’ era whilst ‘Caterpillar And The Barbed Wire’ begins with a bass riff and vocals before building into a delightfully melodic track with a killer elongated synth-led outro. ‘Saturate Me’ takes its time to develop but features some excellently rich guitar riffs and solos alongside an incredible chorus melody. ‘Afloat’ on the other hand, takes things down a notch but is made all the more special by some of Mariusz Duda’s best vocal work to date.
The aforementioned theme of ear-catching melodies continues throughout ‘Love, Fear And The Time Machine’. Lead ‘single’, ‘Discard Your Fear’ is in the running for one of the best songs of the year thanks to a wonderfully addictive chorus whilst ‘Towards The Blue Horizon’ and ‘Found (The Unexpected Flaw Of Searching)’ take it in turns to bring me close to tears.
Special mention has to go to ‘Found…’ because it holds a special place in my heart. It has been a tough year in many ways for me and so the entire album which deals with the conflicting emotions associated with making an important, life-changing decision resonates with me. However, it is this final track with the line ‘It’s a lovely life, you have gone so far don’t give it up’ followed by ‘It’s a lovely life, gotta go with what you think is right’ that has had the biggest impact on me. At moments where I felt like I couldn’t see the wood for the trees, I’d play this song and I would find a little more inner strength to go alongside the floods of tears. For that reason alone, I thank you Riverside.
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 8
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 9
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 10
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 11
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 12
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 13
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 14
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 15
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 16
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 17
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 18
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 19
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 20
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 21
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 22
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 23
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 24
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 25
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 26
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 30
And from previous years: