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.
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
- 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.
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!