Review: RIVIẼRE – Heal

Newcomers in the often-challenging world of progressive metal, Tolouse quartet RIVIẼRE have provided a 53-minute opus in ‘Heal’ that feels stripped back and unphased by any presumption. Like the best works in prog, listening to ‘Heal’ feels like embarking on an epic journey that passes through uncertain pathways, unsteady surfaces and takes time to slow down for periods of reflection before reaching peak summit towards the end.

But unlike some peers there isn’t a necessity from RIVIẼRE to cram maximum instrumentation for listeners because they can. Opener ‘New Cancer’ demonstrates this restraint, giving it’s intro time to ascend and build up an atmosphere of tension before it’s main riff appears with a glacial density that has suddenly settled into the tundra the song has led us through so far.

There’s a tinge of coldness that feels present across ‘Heal’, as second track ‘Golden Wounds’ increases the urgency in its groove-laden hooks which sends tremors to a previously sleek ground, like walls of ice collapsing from mass structures. While ‘Binary Love’ turns up the pace, forcing listeners into a blizzard of post-thrash pandemonium. But even at it’s most pulsing, Arnaud Laffont’s lush vocal delivery keeps the surface smooth enough to glide along.

While moments such as ‘Symbol’s expansive saxophone solo provide something of an afterglow to ‘Heal’, RIVIẼRE have created a body of work characterised by its expansive polar soundscaping. It’s driven by vast passages of serene melodies, with tall-standing hunks of guitar scores laying into the landscape, but is topped with luminous lead passages and vocal harmonies like shine above the landscape like the Northern Lights. This album is a journey, and RIVIẼRE conquer it like veterans explorers of the world of prog metal.

4/5

’Heal’ by RIVIẼRE is released on 20th January on Basick Records.

RIVIẼRE links: Website|Facebook|Twitter

Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)

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