Polish prog masters celebrate Love, Fear and awesome music
The Sixxis are a five piece mob from Atlanta, Georgia, and one who believe that metal is best when it’s just a little bit grandiose. And actually, when you can play as well as them nobody can disagree to strongly. The Sixxis are a band that is rather wonderfully not bothered what comes next as long as it’s excellent, the level of musicianship here is spectacular. Singer Vladdy, who has a violin out without the slightest hint of self-consciousness whatsoever, has already explained that most of the set will come from 2014’s “Hollow Shrine” record, but a couple of the ones that aren’t really hit home. “I Wanted More” is a huge, lush thing, and new one “Dreamers” doesn’t so much hint that the next record will be special as write it in big neon lights above their heads. They save the best for last, and “Believe” manages to out Symphony X Symphony X, if you will. Superb.
Mariusz Duda always seems like a happy chap when he’s onstage, but the Riverside founder member/bassist/singer is especially pleased with himself tonight: “I’ve got three guitar picks”, he grins. “One says ‘love’ one says ‘fear’ and this one says ‘time machine’ how cool is that?!” The three phrases contained thereon make up the title of his bands magnificent new album, and if Duda can’t seem to quite get used to his rockstar trappings he had better get onboard quick, because to all intents and purposes he is one.
Riverside are no longer just some cult prog metal band from Eastern Europe, the Poles are on the cusp of the big leagues, their music is on an equal par with the beasts of the genre, “…..Time Machine” merely follows the previous record “Shrine Of New Generation Slaves” in being incredible, and there is a tangible confidence onstage of a band that knows this too.
Their near breakthrough affords Riverside the luxury of playing proper tours in the UK these days, and this is their third in a couple of years. Not a band to wallow in the past, the set they choose for this jaunt is heavy on material from those last two records.
New tunes bookend the thing. The opener on the record “Lost (Why Should I Be Frightened By A Hat)” and “Found (The Unexpected Flaw Of Searching)” are the first and last respectively, just like they are on the album, while in-between there’s a bit of nearly everything.
“Hyperactive” is heavy, Duda plays some fantastic bass guitar on “O2 Panic Room” and there’s a real crunch to “The Depths Of Self Delusion”. The other two new songs they play fit very snugly into the canon too, “Saturate Me” is perhaps their most overtly prog affair, while “Discard Your Fear” is darker in tone.
There’s a couple of epics too, which allow the band to stretch and prove what majestic musicians they are. “Escalator Shrine” is superb, but in truth they all have to accept that “The Same River” – the very first song on their very first album no less – is the highlight here. Played as part of the encore, it’s a twisting, turning, soaring and dipping quarter of a hour that shows not just how special Riverside are, but how good they’ve always been.
It helps that the four men that make up the band are very evidently comfortable in each other’s company, it helps even more that they are very evidently magnificent.
No fear here, and no need for a time machine as this gig was all about the here and now – and there’s a lot to love about Riverside in the present.