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Riverside - Second Life Syndrome CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.23 | 1768 ratings

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Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars Riverside is a band that I have mostly considered to reside somewhere in the safe heavy progressive territory that exists somewhere between Opeth, Porcupine Tree and Tool, taking the best of those three bands and adding their own twists here and there to create astounding, emotional and melodic metal, almost inhabiting that space before Opeth did. Even though they are quite successful, especially within progressive circles, they haven't quite reached the pinnacle inhabited by those three bands, but were just as influential creating this niche as they were. They would also inspire and influence many more Polish progressive metal acts over the following years.

The band found out how well they fit into this niche in 2005, when they surprised the progressive metal world with their 2nd album 'Second Life Syndrome'. Their music has matured quite nicely, even though they had only put out one album before this, and this album ended up sounding more like a mature band that had been around for a while. The album is full of mostly moderate tempo anthems, but that dark and expressive territory is explored to its most dynamic regions.

At first listen, the music might seem a little too much alike, especially where the tempo doesn't really change much, however, there is so much to discover with repeated listening. All of the things that might not be apparent at first really start to shine through. The band's talents draw you in and the way they experiment with the dynamics sometimes even bring the music to new heights that have also been approached and explored by those bands that are more famous. Just listen to the tour-de- force of emotional range on the 2 epic tracks; the title track and 'Dance With the Shadows'. Suddenly, all of the hesitancy and unsurety of the first album (which actually seems more polished and insincere) are surpassed as if the band was told to just follow their instincts and let loose with their ingenuity.

The only thing keeping this album from being perfect is that the tracks do have the same atmosphere, and Riverside does have a hard time breaking from that formula. More exploration or experimentation might help, but the band has also tried some experimentation and it doesn't always seem to work to their advantage. One place that it does is on this album with the instrumental 'Reality Dream III' which is probably the most explosive track on the album. Yes, it takes some time to build up its crescendo to an amazing climactic ending, but that is also what makes it more powerful.

Progressive fans will still find plenty to keep them happy here. The songs are structured somewhat similar to that of Tool in that the song structures are not in any way traditional, that there are plenty of rhythm, meter and melodic changes throughout the album to keep most of those fans happy. The music on this album is not that challenging either, but it still captures you and keeps your mind engaged with its somber yet dynamic atmospheres. This is an excellent album and is one that progressive metal lovers should be familiar with.

TCat | 4/5 |


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