We love to describe things as epic in the 21st Century. "Those mashed potatoes were epic!" "That shower was epic."
On one hand, it sort of diminishes the awe and majesty of things like mountains, constellations, the passing of eons. On the other, an epic is something that is familiar to everyone, passed down from generation to generation. Epics have been seen and heard before, almost to the point of anonymity.
Riyah's self-titled debut Riyah owes a little bit to both definitions. These four short story-songs sound like the outtake from some larger-than-life fantasy film, most notably Ridley Scott's Legend, as the singer is a dead ringer for the vocal tracks on that soundtrack.
The artful, elaborate indie rock owes more to the second definition, however, as the instrumentation slathered in echo and dipped in reverb are slow and ponderous, like some world builder’s fantasy novel stretched apart into three films.
The songwriting, production, mixing and mastering are all flawless, sublimely so, in fact. The only danger is that no particular element stands out. It is of a whole, which makes individual elements lose their efficacy. To be blunt, this is more the idea of epicness than the reality. Riyah is the auditory equivalent of a mid-budget action flick with lots of slow-motion shots of fluttering coats and women posing with swords.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with that. We always need soundtracks for our late-night fantasy binges, or when we want our dance floors to be a little larger than life.
Next time out, I'd like to hear a little more grit and a little more heat. I want to hear what makes Riyah stand apart and not sounding like everybody else. Still, a great effort, solid songwriting, infallible production and decent packaging indicate Riyah has a decent level of taste, which could really shine if sharpened and refined.
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