Album Review: Riddle House – Nature of the Story

I’ve been neglecting this album for far too long. Being contacted by Ben Lerner of Riddle House through their submission to the website, I am glad I gave up some of my free time to listen to their latest EP. Released a few months ago, Riddle House’s “Nature Of The Story” is the very essence of great instrumental rock. With its serene album cover, the listener should prepare themselves for a half hour of solid material.

Longtime readers probably know by now that I am not a fan of writing about instrumental records. To me, a lot of them sound very similar, usually using the same post-rock influences and resulting in a hodge-podge of albums mimicking each other. Luckily, Illinois’ Riddle House is able to incorporate different influences to their album than what’s standard in the genre, and also includes it’s own theme throughout the duration of the album. The textures of each song result in a different experience with every listen, making it well worth the $4 to purchase it. The more I’m listening to “Nature Of The Story,” the more I love it.

riddle house live
Photo by Riddle House (Facebook)

Combining elements of progressive rock and experimental rock, this album contains thirty minutes of heart and soul. Sonically, the album reminds me of older Pink Floyd material mixed with newer Dream Theater or Steve Vai material. It’s debatable that Ben Lerner’s guitar style could easily persuade the listener that the likes of John Petrucci are guest spotting in the album. The riffs are very appetizing, the verses and choruses not overly complex, but enough that you need to sit back and take it all in. The album begins with the title track, featuring acoustic strumming, booming bass guitar by guest Dug Pinnick of the band King’s X, and an interesting reversed lead guitar tune. Several different solos are incorporated into the track on both clean and electric guitar, helping to build the rise and fall present throughout “Nature Of The Story.” The second track “Under A Breaking Wave” continues the rise, headed by drummer Rob Lerner’s deep bass pedal beats. The song’s verse reminds me of The Fall of Troy with its fret tapping and quick-stop strumming. The album closes with “Be Good: A Silhouette Behind Forever,” the album’s longest track. Incorporating the keyboards for the first time that I noticed, it acts as the perfect complement to Ben’s shredding. Bassist Pete Fenech finds a groove throughout the song, and stands out the most during the album’s highs. An emotional roller coaster, the music speaks for itself, but it doesn’t necessarily need to.

Now to what makes this instrumental album different than the others. It’s sad to hear that the inspiration for this album came after the passing of Ben and Rob Lerner’s grandfather (my condolences to you two). But without death we are unable to enjoy life, and Riddle House master this theme with the help of Larry Lerner, the star of the show. Providing the spoken word portions of this album, Larry reminisces on life and its meaning thanks to recordings of himself he left behind before his passing. The moments of spoken word are truly touching as Larry speaks beyond the grave, and are even more emotionally charged with Riddle House behind him. With such a unique turn of events to allow this recording to happen, I believe it was destined for Riddle House to record and produce a recording of this high quality. To incorporate the ethereal is so unique, I only wonder what inspiration will strike the minds of those three next.

If I were to bring up one complaint, it would simply be that Riddle House needs a vocalist! There are instrumental bands out there that need vocalists because of how unemotional and boring they are, and then there’s Riddle House with the exact opposite problem; they need a vocalist because of how emotionally driven the music is. With one, they would be able to harness that feeling and take it to another level. I believe that is all they would need to put themselves on the map as one of progressive rock’s up-and-coming bands. With the generally lower tone of the album, I’d recommend someone with a lower voice. But hey, that’s just what I think. They can continue to be awesome any way they’d like.

riddle house
Photo by Riddle House (Facebook)

“Nature Of The Story” is a solid album, one that should be listened to by any fans of progressive rock/metal and instrumental rock. Those that enjoy this album should also check out their 2012 self-titled release “Riddle House.” Please support this band by checking out their Bandcamp page, or by following them on Facebook and Twitter. I look forward to Riddle House’s future releases, and to the next emotional ride.

Enjoy a complimentary listen of “Nature of the Story” through Bandcamp below!

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