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Riverside Crow - Offtopic Award winner

Riverside Crow
Offtopic
by Mark Machlay at 16 June 2020, 4:20 AM

Four-piece high-energy, yet groovy, heavy rock group RIVERSIDE CROW is “all about having a good time in a kick ass way”. The group came together after the dissolution of many other renowned Viennese bands from the Viennese underground such as DEVILATE, CEMETARY GARDEN, AN ACT OF TREACHERY and HARMANIC. By the summer of 2016, Stefan Watzger on guitar and Manuel Kuhrner on bass decided it was time to get together and form a project. They were joined by long-time friends Wolfgang Sowitsch on drums, Benjamin Auer on guitar and Prabhin Velankanny on vocals. They started playing live shows in 2018 but in the middle of 2019 Auer vacated his guitar duties to “focus on other areas of his life”. Undeterred, the band continued on, releasing three singles that year in anticipation of their full-length debut “OFFTOPIC”, released in April 2020.

The band is quite keen of defying labels it seems. If you were to judge them solely on the single “Over It Again” you might write them off as just normal, everyday hard rockers with some cool riffs, catchy choruses and slick production. But that isn’t the end to these Viennese chaps, not by a long shot. While “Violet” and “Red Light” have a similar energy – both being high energy rocker with heavy hooks – “Pure Perfection” breaks that cycle, with a 6/8 time groovy, heavy chugging riff and almost danceable quality. The best comparison I can give is think BLACK SABBATH with bite, sludgier, dirtier and drenched in quality heavy rock goodness. While “Saving Command” also carries some of that sludgy, chuggy, chocolatey goodness, it also has some IRON MAIDEN sensibility in its guitar harmonies and transitions between sections. You even get a sense that they’re capable of indulging in a softer side with a ballad quality song in “A Sign”  featuring an achingly soulful solo from guitarist Stefan Watzger. Even bassist Manuel Kuhrner gets a solo moment to shine in the opening of the track. Before that even, you get “Empty” with a clean guitar tone intro before quickly going into a gallop guitar riff and some interesting vocal harmony interplay between Watzer and lead singer Prabhin Velankanny. But to further show their range, “June Sixteenth” has a biker rock edge to it sounding like a souped ZZ TOP with an epic chorus.

I enjoyed these guys thoroughly. Unfortunately, there is a lot of these straight-ahead, C-standard tuned heavy rockers trying to make a name for themselves these days and it may be hard for them to make themselves heard overseas. I can only hope that they can get on a bigger name tour as support so the rest of the world can check them out. They are a lot heavier than they describe themselves and should lean into that without giving up their obvious pop influenced melodies. The interplay between lead singer Velankanny and Watzer adds that intriguing creativity that I rarely see in other bands of their style. May they soon get the traction they so deserve.


Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Violet
2. Red Lights
3. Saving Command
4. Pure Perfection
5. Empty
6. Over It Again
7. A Sign
8. June Sixteen
9. Horizon
Lineup:
Stefan Watzger – Guitar and Vocals
Manuel Kuhrner – Bass
Wolfgang Sowitsch – Drums
Prabhin Velankanny - Vocals
Record Label: Independent
     


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