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Riverside - Memories In My Head CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.08 | 278 ratings

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4 stars 4/5

2011 marked the 10th year of existence for the Polish progressive metal outfit Riverside, and they celebrated with a "Jubilee year" tour of Europe, the release of the 6-cd Reality Dream box set (combining the first three albums with additional material), and with the promise of a new album. Early in the year they also released this three-song EP of new music, presented as a reflective wind-up of their first decade.

Clocking in at a shade under 33 minutes, the music on Memories in My Head is evocative of the Reality Dream material, full of the vast, cinematic soundscape that is the signature of this foursome. It is lushly atmospheric, driven by Piotr Grudziński's hallmark melodic winding guitar themes, and Mariusz Duda's powerful, leading bass and fine vocals. The previous studio release Anno Domini High Definition had introduced a harder edge to the band's music, but Memories in My Head looks back to the more expansive, less metal-driven sound of their origins.

The three tracks--"Goodbye Sweet Innocence", "Living in the Past", and "Forgotten Land"--merge seamlessly into each other musically, and the first two tracks at least are also united by a lyric thematic arc: a combination of nostalgia for the past and a desire to break from it/eyes to the future, evoked by Duda's characteristically introspective lyrics: "Life happened to us," he sings, "we are not the same/but we've managed to survive". Indeed.

However, the EP does suffer from a bit of a lapse: the third song, "Forgotten Land", doesn't quite fit lyrically, breaking the continuity set by the first two. It was used as the soundtrack on a video promo for the PC/console game The Witcher 2 (and perhaps was written for that purpose). It is a fine song, but it is clearly the odd man out. Nevertheless, Memories in My Head is an excellent release, an outstanding introduction to the band if you have never heard them, and a welcome snippet of new material for established fans.

I want to end with an observation. Having listened to the entire available output of Riverside/Lunatic Soul (some 9 albums/EPs altogether so far), it occurs to me that these guys are the most remarkably consistent bunch that I have ever encountered, over more years of collecting and listening to music than I care to remember. All their albums are of exceptional quality, hovering around the 4 to 5-star mark--but that's not the point. The point is this--there is not one single track, across all the combined group/solo releases, that I am indifferent to, or would choose to skip over. Not one. No other artist in my experience, and certainly not in my collection, has managed to accomplish that trick. And the more I think about it the more astonishing a feat it becomes--not one mediocre track. Either Mariusz Duda produces so much material he has the luxury of choice, or he is one hell of a songwriter. This is a man--and a band--not to be ignored.

ergaster | 4/5 |


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