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metal talk
Marble Factory, Bristol
21st October 2015

Ian Sutherland
ian sutherland


Prog rock is becoming a very, very wide church. It is a term which used to mean one thing in the seventies and eighties but now there are hundreds of very diverse bands all huddling together uncomfortably or otherwise under the prog umbrella because they don't quite fit anywhere else. Tonight's gig encapsulates that perfectly with three very different bands.

Poland's Lion Shepherd open the proceedings and certainly have the complexities and rhythms to interest a prog audience.

However at the same time they bring a kind of world music vibe into the mix with eastern influences and even some oud playing(an oud is a kind of middle eastern lute). Performing as a three piece they have an understated, humble stage presence but the crowd warm to their unusual style and singer Kamil Haidar's emotional interpretations of their songs.

I think their live show needs some work as they seem to lack some confidence but musically they are very interesting and worth checking out. Metaltalk's review of their debut album can be found here.

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lion shepherd
Lion Shepherd

The Sixxis from the US are up next and are a much more assured live outfit. There is a huge rock/Metal vibe to what they do, this is definitely loud in your face big guitar music. However there are lots of time changes and some keyboards and even violin added to the mix to make things interesting (hence the prog umbrella).

These guys from Atlanta, Georgia have a great confidence in their hard hitting music, maybe even too much. They choose not to really engage with the audience much and let the music do the talking which is fair enough but it meant that for me at least, there was little personality or connection with what they were doing.

Another band with some interesting music but afterwards I felt less inclined to seek out their stuff than Lion Shepherd and their humble stance.

the sixxis
The Sixxis

Polish prog rock royalty Riverside are a well established act in the genre and are building a large and loyal fan base all around the world (although it is noticeable there are a fair amount of Poles in the audience tonight).

Their music up until now has easily been able to fit into any definition of prog but their most recent album 'Love, Fear And The Time Machine' is a superb example of how to take musicianship and ambition and apply it to carefully constructed and memorable songs.

The overall vibe of the album is very mellow compared to some of their older, more hard hitting material so how would the songs fare in the live environment?


The answer is very well indeed as opener, the brilliantly titled 'Lost(Why Should I Be Frightened By A Hat?)' shows. The sound is big and crystal clear and the eloquent and carefully placed guitar work of Piotr Grudzinski is immediately impressive.

They slide effortlessly from this into 'Feel Like Falling' from the previous album 'Shrine Of New Generation Slaves' and show that they can up the intensity levels any time they want without losing that focus on song craft.

Mariusz Duda is the focus of most of the attention centre stage, able to effortlessly play complex bass patterns while keeping his unique, evocative vocals absolutely on point. He is fun too inbetween songs whether showing off his Fear guitar picks or illustrating how the band have aged in their ten year plus career by comparing the youthful looks of keyboard player Michel Lapaj with his more grizzled guitar playing bandmate.


It is the music that matters though and as I think any band with a decent sized back catalogue should do, Riverside gave us a near two hour set showcasing music from right throughout their history.

'Hyperactive' is a huge chunk of intense progressive Metal, 'We Got Used To Us' is a Floydian slice of hugely memorable song matched with haunting guitar lines and a chorus which sticks with you for ages afterwards and '02 Panic Room' is driven along superbly by insistent bass and guitar refrains.

Set closer 'Escalator Shrine' shows they can do epic, intense, complex progressive rock as well as anyone on the planet and they prove that again immediately with the first encore song 'The Same River'. However that makes the gentler parting shot of 'Found(The Unexpected Flaw Of Searching)' from the latest album all the more poignant and effective.


This was a masterful performance from a band who have developed their own style and really know who they are and what they want to do. They may be stuck under that prog rock umbrella but it's no bad place to be these days and with the sheer strength of songs they can write they can break out almost any time they like.

Riverside are absolutely a band you should check out live whether you are under that brolly or not.




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