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Riverside - Second Life Syndrome CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.26 | 1589 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars There's no Artificial Smiles when listening to this album.

Polish band Riverside exploded out into the prog scene a few years prior to this album with their stellar debut, Out Of Myself, and in 2005 they followed it up with this beauty. During that short span of time the album has become a renounced masterpiece and the band has been elevated to Godly status within the progressive metal world, their peers now including Pain Of Salvation, Porcupine Tree and Tool, not bad at all for a band that got its start in the early 2000s - and slightly ironic since the band don't often consider themselves to fall under the ''prog'' tag. This second offering from the band takes what they did well on the first album and builds on it. The feeling and general tone of the album is generally the same as the debut, a very dark and self-reflective voyage which plays out as a concept trilogy when combined with the other two albums in their discography at this point. What's different about this album is the aggression, the general feeling that the boys are more comfortable in their shoes, and the apparent desire to not just make something great, but to make something monumental. Fans of the first album will be delighted, as will anyone who loves slow and brooding progressive metal with multiple extended suites and instrumentals.

Some of the best points of this album are the standout short rockers. Although not all of them will be considered 'short' by everyone, Riverside really excels at the heavier side of things on this album. On their previous album they tinkered in this department, but this time around they've decided to kick down the doors and run in headlong. This is proven right off the bat with the excellent and heavy-as-hell Volte-Face, which is like a kick to the face with it's heavy and surprisingly fast guitar playing from Piotr Grudziński. Other songs on the album will have their heavy moments, but the next most memorable rocker is the killer, 5-minute Artificial Smile, which really shows the band heading in a more metal direction. Marcus' vocals are less reserved than normal and he belts out with ever inch of his strength on this excellent track.

Of course, where would Riverside be without their epic tracks? On this album there's two of them, the first being the title cut. Second Life Syndrome is a combination of the first two albums in terms of sounds, as it can go off on a heavy tangent full of metal riffings and then slow right down into a spaced out segment that brings back memories of Pink Floyd as The Same River was able to do. This is a highly impressive track throughout its 16-minute duration with every member playing to their strengths. Dance With The Shadow starts out much slower than its counterpart, but its slow build eventually turns into full out chaos supported by a very lead keyboard and a chugging guitar. Of course, tradition also carries on in the form of Reality Dream III, the end of the 3 part instrumental that started on the first album. Like it's brethren it's an impressive and heavy instrumental that brings up memories of Indukti (for obvious reasons).

As usual the album is well supported by beautiful artwork on the cover and throughout the booklet, which works with the other albums in the series to make the trilogy really feel like a trilogy. It also strengthens the mood from the album already presented strongly in the themes of the music.

It's tough to argue if this album is better than the first or simply on par with it. Out Of Myself had its charms and so does this one. Second Life Syndrome feels a bit more mature and polished, and certainly more heavy, so it all comes down to a matter of personal preference. Of course, it goes without saying that this album makes an excellent addition to any collection, especially one in need of progressive metal. 4 reality dreams out of 5, definitely recommended.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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