Californian polymath reaches the apex of his long run to glory.
It’s been a story of gradual dwindling for ANYONE which allowed Riz Story crystallize his vision over the last quarter-century, after the original rhythm section of Jon Davison and Taylor Hawkins had left to eventually land in, respectively, YES and FOO FIGHTERS and the ensemble’s leader and, one decade later, dissolved it all in favor of film-making in 2006. Back in action since 2012, the band reached the stage of a third album now where, save for three guests adding parts to three pieces, the mastermind plays all instruments, yet that doesn’t limit Riz’s creative reach in painting dystopian view of our doomed planet. Shall we lose hope, then? – here’s the question this record’s aiming to answer over the course of the devil’s dozen numbers.
Gloomy from the very beginning, once “It’s Already Too Late” has flown in on a mournfully rumbling bass and wailing guitars that roam stereo panorama, funereal riffs and spectral vocals must not conceal light which cuts through tumultuous despair, as there’s a lot of sparse moments amidst the aural assault; more so, the psychedelic swirl of “Mother Superior” is festive and colorful, with black and white simply parts of an entire spectrum. No surprise, then, in “Sip The Pleasure Of Days” rocking hard, if not too heavy, and in the acoustically driven, translucent balladry of “All That Lives Is Born To Die” where piano lines over synthesizers-drawn backdrop create a small symphony before fervent drums give the epic a new momentum.
The drift may turn to a folk-informed prog on “Thought I Was” that sees Davison return, caressing four strings over a fretless fingerboard, yet the electronica-tinctured “A Brief Sparkle In The Nothingness” offers cinematic belligerence with a cod-reggae rhythm to disorient the listener before a pair of pop-minded, albeit sophisticated, tracks render it all straightforward. Still, nothing should prepare one’s ear for the spiritual allure of “Want” and “Sip” – hymns of human’s desire to belong – or to the noise of “A Love Letter To Humanity” which is full of ennui. And then, there’s hypnotically morbid “Die With Me”: a strangely jovial precursor to the finale of “Fade To Black” whose triumphant takeoff in the metal-plated middle will show how hope can be found in the darkest places. A life-affirming listen.