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Second Life Syndrome

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Reviews

Average Rating
★★★★½
(47 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • I bought this album totally based on the reviews, without hearing a single second of music, and it is probably my best new discovery this year so far. This album is overflowing with lush melody, imaginative songwriting, intense emotional lyrics and heartfelt singing. There are many mellow moments, but it has plenty of heavy rocking moments as well. There is lots of keyboard usage, and refreshing, colorful guitar melodies.

    The singer, Mariusz Duda, is the best I’ve heard since Daniel Gildenlow, maybe even better. His timbre is smooth, his range is incredible, parallel to the music, it varies from soft and delicate, to wailing and powerful, hitting high and low notes, and even a few screams which captures that true emotion being released.

    This is truly some of the most _Progressive_ music I’ve heard. The different ideas and movements seem very natural as they flow into each other, forming crescendos and crashing down again, yet the next part of the song is always an exciting mystery, even after listening to it several times. The songs don’t linger around forever with the same feel and then suddenly change, different parts last just the right amount of time before moving on to something new.

    The title track is my favorite song here. It spans over 15 minutes, and every chord progression, every note, every second of singing is musicianship at its finest. At one slower part, between breaths there is a little twinkle of keyboard notes that snuggles in just perfectly. It is only one second of this song, but the little things give this album that substance so it never feels empty or drawn out.

    “Conceiving you” is probably my second favorite song here. It starts with a contemplative piano loop which soon blossoms into a full band. The guitar solo shortly after is one of the most absolutely heartfelt melodies I have ever heard, and near the end of the song it climaxes and everything comes together, while the singer cries, “Still Conceiving you… all along…” Even though this track is short it always leaves me in astonishment.

    Who says we can’t make comparisons? I think fans of newer Anathema, Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd and Pain of Salvation will eat this album up like a huge cherry cheesecake smothered in chocolate sauce. You can hear the true emotion like Anathema, the long, shifting song structures like Floyd, the heaviness incorporated in like newer Porcupine Tree, and the brilliant lyrical content and lush blend of instruments like Pain of Salvation. The band isn’t necessarily directly influenced by them, and certainly not “ripping them off,” but like I said, fans of the previous bands will defiantly go crazy over this band; I know I love those 4 bands, and I love this.

    This band has an extremely bright future ahead of them and I don’t see how any intelligent music fan could possibly say this is bad. I don’t think the band will ever retreat to any limitations or labels and will always do what’s truly in their heart. It’s my best new discovery this year and I’m very glad I “blindly” purchased it. I’ll be getting their first album very soon. Rock on, guys.

    Posted on January 11, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • RIVERSIDE – Second Life Syndrome
    -
    Fusing the styles of Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, A Perfect Circle and even touches of the legendary King Crimson, Poland’s Riverside is an unstoppable progressive tour de force. Though offering nothing entirely `new’ to the genre… They have created an album in exceptional beauty and with ample feeling. It is powerful, emotive and moving… I love whenever a bands music is actually `felt’ and not just simply `heard’.

    I could go into extended lengths about how amazing this CD is… But one listen to any track on this disc and it will sell itself…
    Oddly enough my primary diet consists of Metal music but as a Prog lover and fan of Porcupine Tree I was told to check this out, and boy am I glad I did. Once again, I now have to update my Best of 2005…

    Favorite Tracks: Second Life Syndrome, Reality Dream III, Conceiving You and I Turned You Down
    -4.75 Stars

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    Posted on January 11, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Riverside is the best new band I’ve heard in ten years.

    In fact, had I looked for them any earlier, they would have been impossible to find. Not because the band is from Poland. Not because they weren’t popular. But because the band started taking critics by surprise when they played live for the first time in just 2002. I must tell you that my standards in a group are very high. Most bands don’t cut it with me. When I’m going to invest my time with a group, I choose carefully. And you know that if you choose right, you become a part of the group’s message and grow old with them.

    Having long been a fan of progressive rock, my groups must be overwhelmingly competent. My definition of an intelligent person’s rock band would be Spock’s Beard, Dream Theater, Flower Kings, Transatlantic, Yes, early Genesis… well…you get the idea. Nowadays, it’s really hard to find exceptional music in the ‘progressive’ genre to invest in. It’s not unlike a 35 year old twice-divorced man who begins dating again. He knows the field and most of the field is not to his liking because he’s seen all of the hooks and tricks before.

    But Riverside is like a fresh lover. Fresh, naughty, experienced, playfully naive, and ready to teach you.

    So one day, while searching for a new lover amongst the cross-listings of NEO-PROGRESSIVE ROCK at Amazon.com, one band stood out. I mean REALLY stood out. People had nothing but heaps and mounds of praise for Riverside. Pretty unusual for a group which never played outside of their home country and were overrun by fans at their first gig. But like computer dating, just because the profile seems be a good match on paper, the truth is meeting your date face-to-face, or in this case ‘ear-to-ear’. I want you to listen to Riverside.

    You’re getting in on the ground floor here. I’m giving away bits and pieces of the band because they seem too good to believe. Would you believe that there are an incredible 94 reviews of the band’s first album, ‘Out of Myself’ carefully compiled and linked on the band’s website. All of them are overwhelmingly positive. There are even reviews of their self-financed 300 copy promo CD! Riverside has only just released their second album “Second Life Syndrome”(yes folks, only their second) and has kept the critics raving. 137 reviews – 137 double-thumbs up.

    If you’re in the states and have never heard of Riverside, don’t be alarmed. The group was invited to NearFEST last year (2005) but was not able to attend. Not that they didn’t want to (it’s progressive rock’s highest showcase). They wanted to, but passport pleas fell on the deaf ears of the authorities. In June 2006 Riverside will make their impact on the international rock scene properly. Watch and see. It’s actually not a hard prediction to make (word has it that Nearfest SOLD OUT in 30 minutes)

    Some thoughts about Riverside. . . (while in a deep dreamy state of Vulcan mind-meld)

    blend of prog rock, art rock, and ambitious music

    sensitive lyrics.. straight to the heart

    an intravenous injection of music

    a critics’ joy!

    highly addictive

    raw talent, clear focus

    it’s all about… finding YOURSELF

    Lyrics:

    Follow my name
    Follow my sin
    Wearing my mask
    Cover my fear

    All of my blame
    All in my place
    Wearing my mask
    Cover my shame

    We are so far from understand
    We are so far from
    “we can take”

    ONWARD AND UPWARD

    To be at the right place at the right time requires luck and synchronicity. I’ve seen some fantastic live photographs that have accurately captured in pixels what must be the live energy of the band. I can only imagine. Riverside is a rare treat that must be shared. 5 Stars!

    Posted on January 11, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I was browsing through some various CD’s and decided to see if there were actually any bands out there that were under the alternative or progressive style that I had not either already listened to, or had decided I did not care for. Amazingly I found this band, which hails from Warsaw, Poland. A “New” prog rock band? And one without some sort of dragon or universal landscape on the cover?

    What an amazing band. The first thing I’d like to say about this band is that they have a distinct sound within all of their songs. Sometimes with “newer” prog rock bands (I’m talking new as in the last 10 years, so NOT Pink Floyd, ELP, King Crimson, Genesis etc.) you find a somewhat formulaic sound that is usually stuck in extreme synthesizers and opera like crescendos that go on forever. Not these guys. From the structure of their songwriting to the arrangements of the guitars and percussion, right down to the middle of the scale vocal tone that emits from the lead vocalist. Don’t get me wrong, there are still keyboards there and plenty of drawn out epics, but the songs don’t sway and swoon, they bob, weave and explode with action while still retaining a mysterious broody mystique to them. They have been compared to Pink Floyd and Dream Theater. I’d say that really isn’t a bad comparison if I think of the two melding together.

    I won’t review every song, but several. Enough for you to get a good understanding of what you’re getting into..Or what your missing by not…with Riverside.

    “Second Life Syndrome” is the second album by Riverside and was released in 2005. The album has songs on it that vary in tempo and overall pace, making it pretty diverse and an overall great listen. It’s atmospheric but not enough to put you to sleep. The lyrics are brought through clear and crisp and backed with that you get some beautiful instrumentals. The latter is what is fun about progressive styles like this, instead of one cool beat, one little part that you love about a song, one heart stopping jolt, you get a multitude of experience like that on just one track!

    Nine tracks clocking in at over 60 minutes in length, Riverside is more soulful than anything. I wish some of the older grunge bands like Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains would have taken notes, simply because this is really a better way tone wise to evoke depressive harmony. Gaelic and not Guttural, Heartfelt as much as heart wrenching. Track one is called “After” and has an almost Indian type chant with great backing vocals and the sound of a Congo drum beating in the background. Track two is “Volte-Face” and is over eight minutes long. This track has some great synthesizer on it and it is here where we really started hearing some great shredding on the electric guitars. The pace of the song speeds way up but still holds a slow town when taking it easy for some of the integral parts of the chorus.

    Track three is “Conceiving you” and is not a long song but still a powerful track. This song is a slower set track that has some great melodic guitar that really hits some high notes. One of the most beautiful parts on the song is towards the end with a doom but not to dire crescendo of guitars as the lead vocalist pleads, “Still conceiving…you. All along…still conceiving you…all along”. A wonderful ending of a serenade for this track and its haunting to the point that you almost don’t know if you should replay it…that’s what real music is, its not something you HEAR, its something you FEEL.

    Riverside doesn’t pull any punches, and despite me bringing out the fact that some of the songs are slow and calculated, there are others, and even other times within the slower tracks where the singer growls to the backing shriek of guitars. Some of it reminds me of Saigon Kick, some of Type -O- Negative, but its ALL Riverside here, and I like what I am hearing. Track five has a blend like that, with some steady, gripping riffs that add to the mix of intense vocals and brooding themes. I know I mentioned before that you can have to much formulaic sounds within a certain style of music, but these guys have some great keyboard and synth that bring out the dead like some old never say die church organ in a horror movie.

    Just when I think they are winding down, they take me higher. Track six is called “I turned you down” and starts out with a solo guitar piece that is like something from Metallica’s days of “One” back in 1991. The amps are dialed in perfectly as its not giving off much reverb but not getting much twang either. The solo opens up into a powerful synth the scales the walls in old school fashion. It then barrels into the chorus with vocalist Mariuzs giving some emotional chorus with “I wish you’d told me that beforrrrrre.” The way he drags out the word “before” is wonderful and again, by this point in the CD I’m just wondering where the heck these guys have been!

    Progressive rock and Alternative Metal, both labels this band has had hung above their heads, is really an acquired taste. Those who like it, really probably love it. And those that say they like it, really don’t get it. It’s not for everyone, but if you like music that paints a picture but still packs a punch, then try Riverside’s “Second life Syndrome”.

    Posted on January 11, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I ask you! Have you ever witnessed a band, who after releasing a monumental debut album, that had garnered widespread praise and universal acclimation, actually top that album with their second effort. I’m not saying it hasn’t happened but I can’t recall if is has, until now. I have listened to Riverside’s brand new release Second Life Syndrome for a week now, probably some two dozen spins and I have come up with one inescapable conclusion. Second Life Syndrome not only surpasses their remarkable debut, Out of Myself: [...] but it ranks with the all time giants of progressive metal like, Dream Theater’s, Images and Words and Awake, or Green Carnation’s, Light of Day, Day of Darkness.

    Forget the Opeth, Porcupine Tree, and Anathema comparisons, I made in my review, about their first disc, Out of Myself. Second Life Syndrome not only eclipses it, but it also insinuates a raw new Riverside direction that, shows the band evolving into a shadowy musical realm, while expanding the creative nucleus of their debut album.

    Riverside

    What are we talking about here? We’re talking about a group of talented Poles, who seem to be creating a new and different style of music and yet it isn’t. It’s fresh as a spring rain and yet it’s dark and morbid: “I can’t take anymore, I can’t breath, I’m sick of this goddamn darkness, sick of the sadness and the tears. I threw it all up every single day together with last nights dinner”

    Take the best from Pink Floyd, Anathema, Porcupine Tree and Pain of Salvation and you almost have something close but not quite. Their music runs the gamut from mellow and subtle to intense and powerful. Most of the album is delivered in a slow to slow medium ethereal tempo but picks up for overpowering crescendos. Most of the music is carried by whining guitars with excellent keyboards interjected perfectly to compliment the music. The vocals by bassist Mariusz Duda, who still reminds me of Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt, though not inspired, are perfect for this melancholy music.

    Total length 63:39

    Line-up
    - Piotr Grudzinski / guitar
    - Markus Duda / vocals, bass & guitar
    - Piotr Kozieradzki / drums & percussion
    - Michal Lapaj / keyboards

    Second Life Syndrome opens with “After”, a slow moody, sing song number, which for somehow reminds me of a forty year old song, “Born to be with You” by the Chordettes, followed by a frenetic piece, “Volte-Face”, Which has fast and somewhat discordant Middle Eastern feeling and some great keyboards. Track three, “Conceiving You”, is an ethereal ballad.

    The title track, starting with a slow guitar Pink Floyd ambiance, leads to a very long complex and varied number. “Artificial Smile” features a heavy bass and drum workout, finishing with manic screams. “I Turned you Down” is a rock style ballad that gradually picks up steam and “Reality Dream III” is a super instrumental. “Dance with the Shadows”, another long one and most other reviewer’s, I’ve read, favorite. The final track is “Before” is an ambient moody guitar and piano laden number.

    CONCLUSION

    The biggest mistake you can make, is blowing this band off because of where they are from. Believe me when I say, there is currently no better, progressive rock/metal band in America, Britain or anywhere else. There’s no one out there, with more imaginative progressive music. No better ear for music, no better compositions, no better arrangements. In summary, the worse thing a progressive rock/metal fan can do is ignore Riverside.

    Evidence of the imminent, popular ascension of this band comes from the fact that this album will now be released world wide by prestigious Inside Out Music. What do they know that you don’t? I can’t tout this album and the previous one enough. It’s your move! 4.9 stars!

    Posted on January 11, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now