Riverside - Second Life Syndrome

Year of Release: 2005
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 231
Format: CD
Total Time: 63:39:00

After having released their debut album Out Of Myself in 2003 in their native Poland, the band was soon snapped up by American based label The Laser's Edge who released the album sporting completely different artwork. In very little time the band's mix of Pain of Salvation, Opeth, Porcupine Tree and Anathema atmospheres soon received high praises the world over. Whether pure progressive media or metal oriented magazines and radio shows, Riverside soon became "the band to watch out for." Needless to say, all this attention didn't go unnoticed, resulting in the band signing a worldwide deal with Inside Out. Of course this move will put them even more into the picture, so for sure the follow up to Out Of Myself had to be even better!

In between the new album and their debut album Riverside delivered kind of a fanclub release called Voices In My Head on which five new tracks were joined by three live tracks. What is great throughout the band's collective output is the fact that they don't go for one specific sound or genre but try to blend various styles into a whole new setting. This way you get metal heads to listen to softer, more melodic songs whilst pure prog heads will also embrace extremely loud and rough passages. The new album starts with singer Mariusz whispering "I can't take anymore, I can't breathe" backed by a swelling synth sound, which in fact has to make the transition with the previous album as Second Life Syndrome is the second part of a trilogy. So quite an ambitious project for a young band to straight away plan a huge trilogy, not knowing what the public might think of their music. Another proof of their determination to make it as a band. In "Volte-face" the band changes direction completely from romantic piano lead parts to a storming finale which sounds like an eruption. Just like the already mentioned Pain of Salvation, the band also writes some damned strong melodies. "Conceiving You" is such an example, which is of such a soft and wonderful nature it could perfectly fit on daytime radio. If songs by Within Temptation and Evenescence can make it into the charts then why not this song? It sends shivers down my spine from the very first second down to the superb Gilmour-like guitar solo, with the melodic vocals of Mariusz Duda topping it all. Duda has this wide range of atmospheres in his voice which goes from one extreme to the other, from delicate modest singing to intense heavy metal vocals making him the obvious singer for Riverside. Let us surely not forget his equally important role as bass player!

Every single track on this album is superbly arranged adding the necessary harmonies, solos, breaks to make it a song of their own. The lengthy title track is the kind of epic that doesn't bore you one single second. It sounds captivating throughout, adding a certain darkness to the whole whilst still remaining accessible. As opposed to a lot of bands, Riverside perfectly understands that you can make up a song out of two extremes as long as you are creative when composing the bridge. This is nicely noticeable in this fifteen minute long song where melodies are alternated between vocals and guitar whilst electric piano serves as the song's guideline. This is before the song evolves towards a more experimental nature with Mariusz briefly returning to his early way of whispering, soon joined by a tribal rhythm introduced by Piotr Kotzieradzki. Hard riffs combine with subtle solos in "Artificial Smile" with Kotzieradzki adding soft percussive touches before turning towards a more obvious rhythm, even sporting a Duda grunt and screams! Riverside has this unique ability to make a song their own with only a couple of notes. This is something which I have been missing for a long time because when you compare certain well-known bands in the seventies the intro was always very important. Take "The Knife" by Genesis as a good example where you immediately know which song it is and which band. These last couple of years however bands tend to begin each song with long swelling synths or audio effects so it takes the listener a long time before he/she knows who it really is. With Riverside almost every single song on this album has its own identity right from the very start. Take the instrumental "Reality Dream II" as an example, where the playing of solitary bass immediately delivers all you need. Perhaps this song sums up everything you have to know about the quality of Riverside, as it really combines a myriad of influences and genres all tangled up into a five minutes fireball of creativity. Who else can introduce Bartok-like piano playing into a barrage of guitar firworks?

"Dance With The Show" builds on a series of inventive breaks and powerful guitar lines interspersed with majestic strings and occasional synth outbursts all based around fierce repetitive bass lines. I particularly like the heavy sound of the organ which sadly is only present for a couple of seconds. With the trilogy based on a lonely human being on a quest in search of his true identity, the first part focuses on the "lonely person" trying to lead a normal life with another person in which he fails bitterly. This, the second part, the "lonely person" tries to change his life, yet in order to achieve more self-confidence has to battle against his memories. In the end he feels stronger yet asks himself if this really is where he wants to go? With the final track "Before" we have arrived to that point in order to close the album in the right mood and also conceptwise perfect to link with the "difficult" third album. No doubt Riverside will once again surpass what they have delivered on this Second Life Syndrome, as they will most certainly grow as time passes by. Inside Out most certainly has signed one of the hottest bands on the current progressive scene for all of us to enjoy!

After (3:31) / Volte-Face (8:40) / Conceiving You (3:40) / Second Life Syndrome (15:40) / Artificial Smile (5:27) / I Turned You Down (4:34) / Reality Dream III (5:01) / Dance With The Shadow (11:38) / Before (5:23)

Piotr Grudzinski - guitar
Mariusz Duda - vocals, bass
Piotr Kozieradzki - drums, percussion
Michal Tapaj - keyboards

Out Of Myself (2003/2004)
Voices In My Head (2005/2006)
Second Life Syndrome (2005)
Rapid Eye Movement (2007)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin PL

Added: November 13th 2005
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.riversideband.pl
Hits: 1046
Language: english


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