The album moves a little outside the band’s established sound (even the style of artwork is a different from the band’s established tradition) and the music is a little funkier, more bass driven and a little more Deep Purple influenced than any of their other releases. There is less of a focus on texture and more of a focus on musicianship. The songs are still slow building, proggy and diverse in a way, but this is a notably different way than on their earlier albums.
The fourth track ‘Left Out’ for example is a slow and brooding key driven song that brings to mind Led Zeppelin’s ‘No Quarter’ as much as it does the softer sides of Camel, Pink Floyd, Opeth and the likes at the beginning at least, until of course it kicks into a metal section at the four minute mark, but then again even that is overlaid with Deep Purple sounding keys. By the nine-minute mark the songs sounds equal parts Tool and Dream Theater, while also having a sort of Pink Floyd’s ‘One Of These Days’ or ‘Sheep’ feel to it. These sonic references are only loosely reminiscent though, not actual sound-alikes. All the music sounds like Riverside to one degree or another, which is part of the album’s strength.
It is difficult to really pick a favourite song or album highlight when you consider that there are only five songs and they are all great and that they are paradoxically similar in their diversity. They all mix metal moments with prog sounds, are instrumentally impressive, cover a lot of different moods each and all feature the same vocal style. Some tracks add Saxophone or Theremin and some feature less vocals than the others, but everything is of the same high quality, with about the same level of immediacy and about the same level of experimentation.
Everyone’s personal opinion is different though, and of course each and every one of them is as valid as the next. Some fans who liked the band since their early days feel that the record is too much of a departure from their established sound and some people who came to the band for the first time with this album also believe that it doesn’t live up to the hype. Personally, I like the album an awful lot.
Overall, Anno Domini High Definition is a superb album of diverse and musically impressive material that keeps me interested from beginning to end and I would strongly recommend it if you usually like this sort of thing.
*** If you can get it for a similar price, try and get the version which comes with the Live In Amsterdam 2008 DVD.
This is a professionally filmed 40-minute show consisting of seven tracks from the band’s earlier works. The tracklisting is: 1. Volte-Face 2. I Turned You Down 3. Reality Dream III 4. Beyond The Eyelids 5. Conceiving You 6. Ultimate Trip (shortened) 7. O2 Panic Room .
They band are tight, focused and play on a good stage production (lights, camera movement and screens) to small but very an appreciative audience. It’s a very enjoyable extra, especially if you are a new fan. ***