This is it! This – this! – is the Riverside that I've been waiting for ever since I heard their first album Out of Myself. This – and not the two albums released meanwhile – is the most worthy successor to the album that had me hooked for weeks and weeks. Not that I have anything bad to say about Second Life Syndrome or Rapid Eye Movement. On the contrary, those were good Riverside albums. But those didn't shine like the first one. Or like this one does. Fresh. Sharp. Bright.
I think there's actually a perfectly natural explanation to all those emotions and feeling about this album. Most likely the key point is that with Rapid Eye Movement Riverside concluded their Reality Dream trilogy and made a brand new start. Not music-wise but concept-wise for, you see, the music hasn't changed all that much. If you'd heard almost any part of this album without introductions, you wouldn't have any trouble guessing the band if you are familiar with Riverside's music at all.
However, it's all in those little details that make this album so excellent. There are three more prominent areas in which you'll notice changes. First, Anno Domini High Definition is a more heavier album than its predecessors. It has a more metal feel to it, although, if you listen closely, it still is somewhere in-between prog-rock and prog-metal. Second, this album feels quite a bit faster than the rest. It's as if they've switched to the next gear and found the drive that I think was missing on two albums before. This one definitely has the drive and it captures you in the rapid currents of the music. Thirdly, there's a change in the keyboard sound that I dig so much. Maybe it's the mellotron. Maybe it's the dirty sounding keyboards. But it was the first thing that, although unconsciously at first, I felt that I enjoyed so much.
As I mentioned, the band started with the new lyrical concept. However, concept being new the motif still remains revolving around social matters. In short, it deals with the fast pace and chaos of the modern life. Reflecting on the subject you'll find that the title couldn't be more fitting, as this modern social chaos did indeed appear with modern technology, symbolically designated with High Definition. And if you reflect more on the subject, lyrics and the music that you hear, you'll find that this whole bundle is very coherent and tight-fitting package. The gloomy, somewhat cold and depressive atmosphere, the fast paced structure of the changing music, interludes of false calm in-between, the feeling of hyperventilation and the sense of having your heart in your mouth. What better band to come up with all this than Riverside? Either one fits the other like a glove.
Riverside is like a knife, possibly a Polish analogue of the Swiss army knife, that has gone through sharpening. They were excellent to begin with and created a brilliant debut album Out of Myself. Then they released two other albums while the blade was good. You can hear that it's very good but it ain't as sharp as it was. Maybe Second Life Syndrome had a better cut than the debut, it didn't have the same edge to it, though. Maybe Rapid Eye Movement was more uniform, it lacked the same spark, however. But now this knife is sharp again. Razor sharp. Possibly this knife is even better than it was brand new. And this is why Anno Domini High Definition has turned out to be so excellent. This new start has definitely taken Riverside's music quite a bit forward.