True art eschews politics, and so will I in this post.
By now, I hope you have all had a chance to listen to Riverside’s brilliant new album, Wasteland. It was magnificently reviewed here at Progarchy by Erik Heter and Brad Birzer. This album is beautiful. It is devastating. It is art at its finest.
Just as T. S. Eliot’s masterpiece “The Wasteland” was written in the depths of pain and despair, Riverside’s new masterpiece was written as the band dealt with pain and loss. The 2016 deaths of guitarist Piotr Grudzinski and Mariusz Duda’s father hang heavy over this album, but they do not weigh it down. Rather, they inform its brilliance. Yes, Riverside’s metal moments are here, and Duda does a great job on guitar when needed. But it is the quiet moments that shine like the star Sam and Frodo saw shining through the gloom and dark of Mordor (an allusion I have shamelessly stolen from Brad… and Tolkien).
Much like the recent Oak album, “False Memory Archive,” “Wasteland” embraces the good, the true, and the beautiful. The lyrics are timeless. They get at the what it means to be human. Our lives are filled with happiness, pain, joy, and immense suffering. Riverside don’t hide this fact. They face it head on, and in doing so, they have created true art. Art should move beyond the mundane and fleeting. In 100 years, no one will be remember or be amused by the political ramblings of Roger Waters, Andy Tillison, or Nick Beggs. They will probably remember “Supper’s Ready” and hopefully they will remember “The Underfall Yard” because that song and album deal with issues of lasting importance. “Wasteland” fits into that category. These concepts transcend time. In 1000 years, the lyrics to “The Night Before” will remain relevant.
Close your eyes
Don’t be afraid
I’m with you
This place is safe
We found a camp
We have supplies
They will let us stay the night
Close your eyes
I’ll tuck you in
Mum will sing to make you sleep
Don’t mind the noise
There’re just the bombs
A part of music for this song
When the night begins to fall
You and I
In a safety zone
The former world shall not return
But we’ll survive intact
Embrace beauty and art in music. Reject the ephemeral in favor of the ethereal.