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5 stars I recently got a hold of the new so anticipated record by Riverside called " Second life Syndrome". After the awesome "Out of Myself" I couldnt really imagine the band toping that magnificent offering and was a bit sceptic about this one. After listening to the cd I must say that I am plesently suprised. The magnificent emotion , songwriting and beautiful voice of Mariusz Duda just got so much better. I could write on and on about this release but all I will say is this record is no doubt nr.1 on my top metal releases this year with Opeth coming in at nr.2. The record starts out with a bleak , beautifully structured vocals , layered so well that its just frightening. Its one of the most errie songs I'v ever heard. Another awesome song is "Conceiving You" , man, this is one beautiful song and the guitar work and vocal lines just show how talented song writers those guys are. I have to say that this album is prabobly the best prog rock/metal album of the year. I loved "Deadwing" by Porcupine Tree but after spending a few days exploring the music on the new Riverside album I am convinced that this album tops it in almost every aspect. If You liked " Out of Myself" You will fall in love with this one even more. Higly recomended for fans of Porcupine Tree, Anathema , Dream Theater. A Masterpiece.
Report this review (#52266)
Posted Tuesday, October 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is my very fav album in 2005. It realy is breathtaking. In my opininion everything here is better then on the "Out of myself" CD. Sound, production quality, catchy and moody melodies, words - the story, vocal lines... fantastic. Second Life Syndrome is also more dynamic and energetic, but from the other hand it is very atmospheric too... Great peace of music!
Report this review (#52309)
Posted Wednesday, October 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars So... the magic is gone. This is an incredible album for those who enjoy prog-metal, but the debut was more then just that (it blended genres). Fans who enjoy all sub-genres of prog could easily listen to "Out of Myself." This album is prog-metal and there's no doubt about it, the tempo is quicker now and sometimes so is the singing significantly. I give three stars because "Second Life Syndrome" deserves the title "Good," by no means is this a masterpiece, even though i'd rank it at about 4th or 5th for favorite album for 2005 favorites (good year for Prog I'd say). The biggest difference to notice from the debut to the sophmore album is the change in mood through instruments. Riverside is evolving, into what I don't know. I only hope their third album isn't stuck on "Prog-Metal", because a band limited to one genre or more specifically a sub-genre is a band that repeats itself, more like a group of guys with two or three songs worthwhile. On the upside, Mariusz Duda is still amazing. He performs better on "Second Life Syndrome" then on "Out of Myself," I have been amazed at this guy every second since I found out about him. I suggest checking "Second Life Syndrome" out, especially if you want a quicker pace then the first album. This is progressive-metal, enjoy.
Report this review (#52693)
Posted Friday, October 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars What a grat album! Realy better then Out of Myself. Yes it is more dynamic in few parts - but it has to be! If you read the story i If you listen to the words on this CD You'll see what I mine. I realy don't know if it is w progmetal album - I dont think so. Not in the same vain like for example Symphony X, Pain of Salvation (first 4 albums) or Dream Theater and so long... besides on the SLS you have many diffrent pieces- listen to the After, Before, Ciocieving You, I turned you down - those song heve nothing to do in Progmetal genre.. Hmm.. maybe it is a question of perception?

I repeat SLS is beautiful piece of music and it's musicaly better then the previous Riverside album. Highly recommended to everyone!

Greetings from Jerry - from Wroclaw

Report this review (#52721)
Posted Saturday, October 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Obviously - impressive and astonishing. You can hardly filter out anything one could consider "badly produced" or "misplayed".

It was highly anticipated, yet none of you should be disappointed after hearing this 9-track record. It is faster, true. Some would say it's heavier - could be. But all the characteristics we got used to love, can still be found on "Second Life Syndrome" and will hopefully remain in their music and continue to evolve in future. Just as they did here. Mariusz Duda, again, did an outstanding performance. But hey, I don't want to discredit anyone - they all did. It's just that you will most likely be overwhelmed by his spectacular doings before even being able to comprehend what a brilliant composition you just heard.

I see no point in writing about all of the songs listed in the tracklist. One has to hear it oneself, to properly judge the quality of this masterpiece. From atmospheric pieces to purely dynamic stuff - everyone will find something interesting in Riverside's second album. If it's better than "Out of Myself", you ask? Hard to tell. I do like both as they differ quite a bit from each other, and as such you have to see them.

Thumbs up for these guys - considering their potential and gradually improving skills, which of course go in pair with their experience after many years of playing in various bands, I expect loads of great Riverside music in future. Anathema, Pain of Salvation, Dream Theater? Maybe a lil' bit. Nonetheless it's easy to distinguish as an incredibly different project.

Report this review (#52948)
Posted Sunday, October 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars In the second studio album RIVERSIDE don't disappoint and truly stablish themselves in the progressive metal genre. Though not transforming radicaly, their sound went through a different direction. If they, in the first album, created a sort of hybrid of PINK FLOYD, PORCUPINE TREE and some DEATH METAL, in "Second Life Syndrome" they pushed a bit more the metal vein and joined some TOOL inspiration, so that the sound became darker and a bit heavier and quicker in some parts. That does not mean floydian style is not present in the album, by the contrary. RIVERSIDE continues their "PINK FLOYD metal sound", somewhay different from (almost all) the other "dream theater" progressive metal bands. The techique is used for the sake of feelings, and not used for the sake of techique by itself.

The album was well conceived, once more a concept album, very pleasant to listen, showing very inspired band members. The album starts beautifully in a melancolic mood with african chorus style "after". "Volte-face" then presents truly the main sound of the album, starting with some heavy catchy riffs, then progressing into an floydian atmospheric mood with catchy solo guitar before ending again in an heavier mood. "Conceiving You" and "I Turn You Down" are the mellower songs, combining the more tradicional rock-song format with metal-floydian guitar work. "Second Life Syndrome" may be the best of the album, adding some more inspired metal/ambiential transitions. "Artificial Smile" approaches to classic rock like "Shallow" does in PORCUPINE TREE's "Deadwing" but more complexed. The more metal of the badge may be "Dance With The Shadow", with heavy dark keyboards remembering PORCUPINE TREE's "Deadwing" in some parts, fused with some TOOL basslines. The album ends with the post-rock "Before".

Very inspired album in a particular sound RIVERSIDE created. The complex and catchy death metal guitar riffs and the nice and beautifull guitar solos combine to create a superb sound. The only rowback of the album, for me, is not having acoustic guitar.

Report this review (#53522)
Posted Wednesday, October 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
5 stars At about half a year ago I did an interview with this Polish progrock sensation and one of my burning questions was "What are your main influences?". Well, I expected some bands but their simple but striking answer was "our emotions" almost perfect description of this new album! I read the previous reviews and have to say that to me it sounds as an insult to call this new Riverside album a progmetal album because Riverside has so much more to offer. OK, the great vocals contain grunchy elements and the guitar riffs and runs have some metal overtones. But in general Riverside makes dynamic and alternating progressive rock with one key element: EMOTION, from the mellow and melancholical climates (wonderful vocals) to the compelling Gilmourian-drenched progrock atmospheres and exciting bombastic and harder-edged parts with those grunchy vocals and heavy guitarplay. The colouring of the compositions with the keyboards is amazing, so tasteful and varied, from tender piano and soaring strings to sumptuous organ floods and some spectacular synthesizer sounds


Report this review (#54676)
Posted Friday, November 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Excellent second album by this Polish band ! Better than her fisrt. But, please, stop calling it a prog metal band. Stop to make somme illusion with Tool.

Similar to the last four or five albums by Porcupine Tree. People who like the 2 last Arena's albums will love this album. This group is offering more inspired prog than Arena or Pendragon. Great riff guitar, great vocal, full of EMOTION. But please, make your lessons, nothing to do with metal. No Tool here, no Opeth here and no metal here. Only Riverside ! One of the greatest album of the year with Wobbler and Mars Volta. Go for it... 4 1/2 stars

Report this review (#55413)
Posted Tuesday, November 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm Agree!!!!!!!!!!!! this is not a metal band

For sure this Polish Band Second Album is merely continuing with their past work OUT of Myself, maybe we have material not included in the First one like 'Reality Dream III'. In adittion, I have no notice a weak track in this new one eventhough the sound it's similar to the past Album (I must say better). I think it will be considered as good as PorcupineTree's Deadwing...Riverside is what the prog needs a bit of refreshing. But I think I cannot give 5 stars not because the album don't deserve it, for sure this SECOND LIFE SYNDROME it's EXCELLENT!!!!!But I will save 5 stars for more experimental an avant-garde projeckts so be happy Riverside with 4 stars...and we will hope an evolution for the third ALbum. Who knows maybe in 2006 for the fans sake!!!!!!!!!

Report this review (#55454)
Posted Wednesday, November 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Indeed this is a new chapter in progressive music. Out Of Myself was promising album, one of the best last year and Second Life Syndrome is just as good or even a step better than last one. As the first reviewer wrote, they really can transform emotions into music, they reminds me on Pain Of Salvation on this levet though they have totally different approach. So.. Riverside give us the last album of trilogy and don't stop then...
Report this review (#55943)
Posted Friday, November 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, actually 4,5 stars ! This is truely an amazing album. Following in the same direction as Out Of Myself and Voices In My Head (EP). In fact this album can be seen as a mix of both, blending the best of what they produced so far. I read a review when the album first came out and I was afraid of finding a more agressive sounding Riverside but to my extreme joy the haven't tried to push the limits too far. I don't know if they could have done any better... Is this the middle part of a trilogy ? Let's hope it is. Well done guys, surely a contender for album of the year.
Report this review (#55961)
Posted Friday, November 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The brand-new Riverside's album delivers us the great piece of progressive stuff, it's no surprise of that fact cause this band comprises really talented and dedicated musicians, crafting their music from the very high level. While 'Out Of Myself' turned out to be rather a mellow and emotional longplay, the latest one brings couple of surprises in a way. The tracks are more complex and longer (for instance 'Second Life Syndrome') , more prog- metal oriented I guess...of course it's not a vice, I'm absolutely pleased with that, though I love classical prog rock sounds as well. Due to its complexity, you have to be more focused whilst listening to SLS, admittedly, it's less accesible to the audience. But when you figure it out entirely, you'll certainly consider SLS rewarding ! Speaking of similarities and other bands' impacts, I could mention Porcupine Tree, Anathema or Pink Floyd, but I'm convinced they're on the verge of defining their unique style, that hopefully will be developed on the 3rd album. Full recommendation !
Report this review (#56260)
Posted Monday, November 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Tristan Mulders
4 stars Riverside - Second Life Syndrome

First of all, this has got to be one of my favourite releases of 2005. Maybe even my favourite of the year so far! When I heard the news about the band recording new material I was really curious about whether it was equally good as the songs on their debut album. So when it was released a couple of weeks ago I could not wait any longer and bought it the instant it was available.

Well, did it live up to the expectations created by the former "Out of myself" album? Let me put it this way: I don't know why I was even worried about them not being able to impress me another time in the first place; from the second I listened to this album I noticed I was listening to yet another talented album by a very talented band.

Sure, you can compare the music on this disc to other bands in the genre (Porcupine Tree, Pain of Salvation and Anathema come to mind as the most typical influences), but what is most remarkable is that emotions are expressed through the mood of the music and the way the lyrics are sung. This album has it all: fear, sorrow, rage. Those three words might well sum up the ideal vibe on this album. This is not your typical progressive metal album, it is more "symphonic." Symphonic in a way that it grows on you with each listening and that there are so many different sections that fluently collide. Furthermore, the music is not foremost technically. There are quite complex parts sometimes, but it is not made to show of the musicians' skills, but to create a certain atmosphere, which works very well; it helps to understand the music better.

What amazed me most about this album is that the overall mood is darker than on the previous "Out of myself" album. It all starts of with some muted whispered vocals before haunting percussion takes over together with some dreamy vocals. But not only here, it is in almost every song that the overall vibe is dark and haunting! This does not mean that every song is depressing, not at all, I really like this ambience, as mentioned earlier on, it really helps the songs to reach a higher level!

If compared to the "Out of myself" album, one might say that this album is more on the heavy side, but this metal approach fits perfectly for the songs. But if that might scare you of a little, don't worry, despite the more heavy approach the music still features what Riverside is so adored for: nice guitar solos, beautiful keyboard layers, well played bass guitar (Mixed in a way that you can hear it as a solo instrument, instead of a part of the rhythmic section. Quite remarkable!), drum patterns that might not get your attention at first, but when you keep an ear open for it you can notice what a talented drummer this band has and last but certainly not the least: highly emotional, sometimes a bit raw, vocals.

To conclude this one can only tell that this album is an experience, an experience that you have to discover for yourself.

Report this review (#56585)
Posted Wednesday, November 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
Marc Baum
5 stars Wow! What a beautiful piece of work by Riverside, I must say I am hooked. 2005 is in any sense the best year for progressive music since long. After so many good, some of them even great records there comes the next, maybe final great album of prog this year.

These progressive rock hopefuls are in any sense a sensation. I really enjoy the warm, beautiful and harmful voice of Mariusz Duda very much. He sounds never too theatralic, his vocals are all about emotion, what he shows in the wonderful single "Conceiving You", the orientalic "Volte Face" or the crowning title piece, which marks the big highlight and appears as the central heart of the album. How can you describe the sound of Riverside on "Second Life Syndrome" at best? Well, the strong Pink Floyd influence of the debut album is still in place, but this album has more edges. Where "Out Of Myself" could be considered as a "new art rock" record, shows the new album the heavier side of the band. Progressive Metal parts appear in some passages, but that in a healthy reduced form. The lead guitars are absolutely shining and remind in some parts on David Gilmour from the "Wish You Were Here" period, which not few prog bands bring on today (see Dream Theater etc.). The production comes very well outbalanced, so that you can hear any single detail in a nice way. Where the singer holds back his aggressions on the debut, he now has some real moments on this album, where he shouts closely like a death metal monster in some few parts, which sounds nowhere as misplaced, it fits to the dark mood of the concept. Not the most happy listen for sure, but a experience of intensity and deepness, music for the mind. I want to repeat that there are some clear metal parts on this album, but the progressive rock element is still the dominant in the sound of Riverside, so don't call this band a prog metal band, because this would be a failure.

"Second Life Syndrome" is the second part of a trilogy, so we can look forward to the third part, which probably will come next year. I mean, they really set one up to the debut with "Second Life Syndrome", the music is deeper and more complex. I have some problems to believe that this band can top this album with their third record, or even can keep it on the same level. If they can top this, they are the new kings of prog music of our time, enough said.

I consider "Second Life Syndrome" a real sign of hope in today's progressive rock, which I never thought will come out of the East. This Polish band is the biggest surprise of prog since many years. They show that the East also has a lot of potential for the future time to come. All those, who believe in progressive rock to find the way into the future, which also can stand the test of time, are highly recommended to listen to this. Specially Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree fans should also spend some time on this little gem. You won't be disappointed I am sure. Cheers!

9/10 points = 92 % on MPV scale = 5/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music

Report this review (#57339)
Posted Monday, November 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars After several listens, this album remains...just.....well, there. Not as good as their previous effort. At times they jam, but don't REALLY jam. At times they play technical, but not REALL technical. This album just seems to float around- never headed in a solid direction.

The singing, vocals, are great, but the musicianship is 2nd rate. Some of the songs are solid- while others are just leftovers from the last record.

Good album, but a materpiece???????? HARDLY

Report this review (#57582)
Posted Wednesday, November 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars So, would it be possible for Riverside to match their fantastic debut cd, "Out Of Myself", with their latest release? The answer is YES! On "Second Life Syndrome", they write incredible music, which is performed to perfection. In the grand spirit of progressive rock, this cd will take you on one amazing journey! From despondent, grunging metal, to warm and lush ballads, to somewhere in between. Since other reviewers here have already described the tracks and/or described the members of Riverside, I won't go into any details myself. To summarize, great songwriting, great lyrics, great arrangements, great playing, great vocals, and unbelieveable production throughout! Truly their is never a dull moment on SLS. This cd is filled with such intense emotion and honesty that it defies description. I rated this as five stars, as I believe it is essential and merits it. It really is that good, folks. Just do yourself a favor and buy this cd!! You will be glad you did! Easily one of the best releases of 2005...if not the best. Hope this helps.

Report this review (#57644)
Posted Thursday, November 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars 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.

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!

Report this review (#57998)
Posted Saturday, November 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, i'd like say that riverside is my new treasure discovery. Oh man! I like the sound of is voice. He doesn't push it to much. That's what i like. Very melodic metal album . Both albums are good but this one is amazing. Good job guys. Thank you so much! I hope the next album will be like this one.
Report this review (#58190)
Posted Sunday, November 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars In my opinion 2005 was one from the worse years for prog music.All great wild west heros shot down the ammo, on the battlefield remained a few exceptions.One from them is Riverside! After firs album I wished them another spectacular succes, but Iwas afraid it can be too difficult. SLS is really great , full of sorrow and emotions.Maybye we can open a new drawer named "cry rock"? Couple days ago I was to the Riverside show.Two hours excellent music! I will be waiting for third part of Riverside trilogy with heartbeat. For me and my sons - absolutelly the best album of this year. New revolver man on the battlefield. Very dangerous!
Report this review (#58502)
Posted Tuesday, November 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Enough with the long and boring reviews we are all used to that are full of musical spoilers and stuff like that. This is just my opinion on the details, just the basic facts. This is the best album i have listened to all year. I enjoyed it more than Dream Theater's Octavarium...and as Dream Theater is a top band i consider 5 stars should do to express how much i like this band. They may not be Spock's Beard or the Flower King's but they are really good at what they do. Riverside has a really unique sound with a very interesting and deep story line that spands over the 2 albums released until now and will probably continue on the next record...please let it be next year...Furthermore, the instrumental is great...the lyrics are nice...the lyrics are wonderfull...especially when Marius starts doing a little of them harsh vocals \m/. All that i can say i don't like 'bout this band is the way Marius pronounces some words ...makes you have a really hard day understanding what he says...but hey, same was with bigger bands(Weird All's Smells like Nirvana comes in mind right now)...and they weren't polish. But still, enogh rubish bout nothin' ... you should listen to this album, it has all what it takes to be a great addition to any prog metal fan and not only. You just can't get enough of it...and it really helps you mentally to listen to a preety nice story like that of Second Life Syndrome...helps you be a better person through the emotions of others.
Report this review (#59935)
Posted Friday, December 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album I purchased after I read the reviews on this site. It is mindblowing. I read a lot of reviews but this is one of the most positive pages I read in a long time. Well there are some people who give it a bad review, but that is not so bad. The musicianship is phenomenal, the production is really finished. If you take the time to listen with an open mind it will blow you away. You can try to compare it with all the great bands, but they have a style of their own. Nothing released this year can compare with this one. Or the last two weeks must be great in the releases. This is, for me, the masterpiece of the year. 5 Stars, well earned.
Report this review (#60791)
Posted Monday, December 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is really excellent ! Melodic tunes. Strong guitars & keyboards but it fits well to compositions ; aerial or melancholic by some other times. Production keeps spaces between instruments & interventions. The singer has a very nice voice, with enough modulations to keep the interest of listener. If you listen to this album, you'll buy it ! (The sound is original but it sometimes reminds me of some good bands : Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater, Anathema, A Perfect Circle, Enchant, Ayreon, Pain of Salvation...)
Report this review (#60899)
Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This band came highly recommended to me by a listener I hardly knew, so I was rather skeptical before listening. The nationality of the band had nothing to do with it; rather it was the person who recommended it. I had never heard of them and had no comparisons. Rather, I was told "If you like prog music in general, you owe it to yourself to listen to this band." Well, I'm rather jaded when it comes to prog, having grown up listening to the Icons of Prog: Genesis, Gentle Giant, Camel, Floyd, PFM, ELP, yadda yadda.

Well, let me tell you that from first listen, I was impressed more than I had been with first listen of any band I can remember. This group sounds veteran in their songwriting and production. While not a lover of black metal, death metal, or any other of such sub- genres, it is a high tribute to the band that they could incorporate elements of these types of metal and still command such high respect from a listener who has been delving deeply into prog since, oh....about 1971 or so.

This group - and particularly on this CD- do such a tremendous job of combining elements of so many different influences that the sound becomes entirely their own. I hope to continue to grow, progress, and be as inspired in their songwriting and production as they have been up to this point.

My personal favorite tracks are: Conceiving You, Second Life Syndrome, Artificial Smile, I Turned You Down.....heck, there isn't a dog on this disc at all!! Highly recommended for fans of prog and metal alike. I bought it for my 21 year old son who plays in a hardcore band (shameless plugging here) which goes by the hame Between the Buried and Me. I hope this music has an influence on him!

Report this review (#61761)
Posted Monday, December 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars 3.7/5.0

I am not to much into prog-metal, especially with all those crappy neo-prog fake groups playing all the time the same I.Q.-style weak keyboards rhythm, etc. However, this album is very good, much more emotional as some people pointed out, with great melodies and good climax.

Reality Dream III is one of my favorite song on this album. I wouldn't listen to this band any time at day or night (it is much more heavy than my liking) however I can say that this album is of great quality and I recognize and appreciate that.

Certainly not a masterpiece, but worth listening to.

Report this review (#62474)
Posted Friday, December 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Waaaaay too derivative of too many other bands (especially Porcupine Tree), but certainly there is some talent / promise here, and it's interesting to hear a band that are clearly influenced by the more recent wave of modern progressive music rather than the 70's bands. In fact it's hard to hear any influence pre 90's here, which must be a good thing, but it's also missing the point somewhat to create such hommage to other artists. I hope they can shake off their influences and find their own voice. Pretty dull artwork too.
Report this review (#62846)
Posted Monday, January 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I didn't believe in the concept of Progressive Metal until I heard this album. I didn't beleive it deserved a such a high position in the Top100 after I first heard it. I also didn't believe I would play it much, like all previous progressive metal I had listened too. Then one day, while discussing the best 2005 albums with some friends, I started hearing Volte-Face and Conceving You in my head, and the question naturally popped out of my mouth: "Have you heard Riverside?". Returning home, I had to play it again. Is doesn't sound like Metal, and yet it is. Sometimes it doesn't even sound that Progressive, however it is. It is one of the best Progressive Rock albums I heard since Mostly Autumn's first three albums. I can't fully describe what worked for me, if the powerfull riffs turning into great solos or the discrete keyboard work turning into massive waves of sound. I do believe it could do without some of the "death-metal" vocals, but that isn't enough for the album to lose it's charm. That's right, what we have here is a Progressive METAL album with CHARM and substance. And I believe that's why it's so good.
Report this review (#62889)
Posted Monday, January 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Although I don't think this album is totally prog, It still is I must say one of the most masterpiece releases of 2005. And does it have to be pure prog for it to be excellent ? I don't think so...This album has a special feeling to it making it addictive from the first listen. It is very varied from the epic second life syndrome prog track which literally blows me very heavy metal tracks like Artificial Smile or Reality Dream III which I also find very good but doubt that everyone will appreciate. Nethertheless, This is an excellent addition to any CD collection, beyond the boundaries of prog fans, This could end up on the shelves of many people if it was a little better known. A very promissing band which deserve no less than 5 stars.
Report this review (#63543)
Posted Saturday, January 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
5 stars A second syndrome ...

'Out of myself' was a great debut by RIVERSIDE and they surprised me with the long tracks 'The same river'' and 'The curtain falls'. But it was possible: 'Second Life Syndrome' is even better and the band has reached maturity! Beginning with track 2 RIVERSIDE takes you on a trip through the whole progressive rock world. Every song combines in another way proportions of the Art Rock, Neo and Prog Metal subgenres.

Volte-Face seems to be a perfect transition from their debut. Conceiving you is an absolutely beautiful ballad. The song participates much in the progress around the EP 'Voices in my head' - improved vocals by Mariusz Duda and the ability to write excellent ballads. The title track can be seperated in three parts - a neoprogger with metal patches and a psychedelic/ambient middle section. Artificial smile is a song with more metal ingredients. I turned you down is nearly in the same vein as 'Conceiving you'. Reality dream III is the official transition from their debut - to me it sounds like a tribute to DREAM THEATER. Dance with shadow is similar to the title track until they reach the 'point of no return' - the end is absolutely great! Before begins as a part of 'Voice in my head' but develops to a reminiscence of the music from TOOL.

This is a masterpiece - I wonder if there is any chance for an improvement.

Report this review (#64297)
Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars As because this is a work of a Polish band, one's initial expectation of Riverside is low. Then upon hearing their masterly works, people tend to over-estimate this album. This is definitely a good work of music and a must have-- but masterpiece? Nope. At places it almost sounded like Dream Theater to me. Now that's not a sign of a masterpiece. Again their sense of theme and style of music are masterly. But they need to improve their compositions to create a true masterpiece album.
Report this review (#67579)
Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This might be the best SYMPHONIC PROG CD of the 3'rd millenium so far! The opening is stunnign chatedrelic majesty of harmonies. The music is fresh and comes deep from the players souls. It is completely original and yet I find my self enjoying like I did when I heard the lamb by Genesis the first time. There is complete structure and every note seems to be in the right place. The guitar riffs are like those in lamb that really move the music forward. The first sounds of the lead guitar take me to same ecstasy as dis David Gilmour with his guitar in Wish you were here.

The rest is pure pleasure all the way to the last note. This is a masterpiece and I burst into tears as I listen to it. Same thing happends with Beethovens ninth symphony and Brahms Violin concerto.

To call this metal is an insult to great music.

No less that five stars! If you don't have this already get your copy at first place!

Report this review (#68269)
Posted Saturday, February 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This Polish band made quite a splash with their debut album, "Out Of Myself". This second album follows on thematically from that and seems to be part of a proposed trilogy of linked albums. Now signed to InsideOut, this second album is much heavier and complex than their debut, but none the less impressive.

The title track itself is a sprawling 15 minute epic, where the band use the space to fully explore the style developed on their debut. That is, atmospherically charged contemporary rock with a solid prog metal element to it. On the surface these guys are from a similar stable as Porcupine Tree, RPWL, Opeth and Anathema and will appeal to fans of those bands.

The key instrument is the guitar of Piotr Grudzinski which is sharp and sustained. Singer Mariusz Duda is moody and sad. His bass playing is pretty impressive too, really to the fore on certain tracks. But for me the standout musician is drummer Piotr Kozieradzki. As this music is heavy you would expect the drumming to be pounding, but it's not. It's loose, restrained, detailed and thoughtful. Really gives the group an unusual depth to their sound.

Standout tracks are "Volte-Face" which is a real tour-de-force, the aforementioned epic title track with it's Floydy opening guitar intro and the very catchy "Conceiving You". Heck, the whole album is impressive!

The superlatives that have been bandied about for their debut and now this second album are very well deserved. This is modern, dynamic rock music of the very best and without doubt Riverside are destined for much bigger things in the future.

Report this review (#68328)
Posted Saturday, February 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow, just one word: wow. It's only two weeks ago now that I discovered this Polish prog-metal act and I've listened the album long enough to give it a well-founded review.

Let me mention this before: music is a matter of taste and everything I write down below is entirely based on my individual taste. I like music with a certain melancholy. Music that is sad and sombre touches me the most by far. Riversides Second Life Syndrome somehow really appaels to me, touches me in an intense way that few other albums do. The entire record breaths an atmosphere that is very sad in a way, but gives me a very pleasant feeling. The modest melodies are simply beautiful and seem perfectly natural: all of them simply had to be and evolve in the direction they should. Every single note is there for a reason. The final, very imporatant touch is delivered by Dudas beautifull and emotional vocals: no exaggerated drama, but just honesty and sincerity.

I recommend Second Life Syndrome to anyone who loves Pink Floyds Wish You Were Here and has a predilection for the darkness and agression that metal can have, for I see the record as a mindblowing executed hybrid between both. A plain 5 star album for me.

Report this review (#69038)
Posted Saturday, February 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Here we have a fine album played by great musicians and really well produced. So you can say...where is the lack? In my opinion the material in this album, is enjoyable but absolutely not original...just a mix of many prog-rock and neo-prog cliches. This is the reason why i think this is an album for collectoors/fans only. It's nothing more than a good listening.
Report this review (#69164)
Posted Sunday, February 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I bought this album mostly because of all the fan-fare it seems to get on this site. And to tell you the truth, after many listens, i'm kind of disappointed. But not so much that I didn't like it, cause I can see why people would, I guess it's just not really my thing. The guitar work is decent, but nothing that is going to blow you away like a Petrucci would. The vocals can be solid at times, but then he throws in some semi-chessy howls that are to erriely similar to so many other Prog-Metal bands of today.

"After" really is a good starter, and got my hopes up on the first listen, but is sadly followed by a bland display of average Prog-Metal angust on "Volte-Face". One highlight I will comment on is the keyboard breakdown on the title track. Now that really was something I don't think I've heard before and really makes the song stand out, but maybe a little too much.

All in all, it's not bad, just not what I was expecting.

Report this review (#69201)
Posted Monday, February 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars What an awesome *flashin band! These guys play their asses off from beginning to end! I haven't heard a band play with this much energy in a long time. Great production, each musician is a master of his trade. Tremendous guitar work reminiscent of David Gilmour's better moments which weaves between lead and rhythm with some wonderful key's that change tempo and constantly build on the emotional singing of Mariusz Duda. This band plays with a great deal of passion and anguish which can be heard throughout, particularly from the tortured lyrics(title track, turned you down) and bass playing of Duda. His bass rumbles through some of the heavier tracks like Artificial Smile and After. I can see some comparisons to PT with the guitar/keyboard interplay and I lost the one I love vocals, but I don't hear any Tool or Opeth. I think the Opeth comparison comes from the fact that some of their tracks are rather long(8 to 15 minutes). Second Life Syndrome is my favorite song, a 15+ minute masterpiece of prog metal that emphasizes the bands incredible musicianship, with lyrics about moving on with your life and getting past a lost love and relationship that was destined to end badly.
Report this review (#70804)
Posted Wednesday, March 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is just a wonderful album. After their already top-quality debut, Riverside have been able to create a new opus which is even more melancholic, suggestive and emotional than the previous one. Guitar work shines with a marvellous lead tone and some occasional cool intrincated riffs. You can say this is like a more metallic Pink Floyd mixed with the atmosphere of Opeth, or also Anathema. Some Pain of Salvation influences can be heard as well, especially on the vocals, however Mariusz Duda has a softer and sweeter timbre, with the exception of some occasional agressive vocals that add a cool contrast to Riverside's music.

There's no a single weak track here, every song is awesome, and you can hear a lot of variety: from long progressive compositions like "Volte-Face", "Dance With The Shadow" or the title track to shorter and more simple, yet absolutely emotional pieces such as "Conceiving You" or "I Turned You Down".

"Second Life Syndrome" is one of the most gorgeous albums I've heard in the latest years from the progressive scene, and may be appreciated by both prog metal and prog rock listeners, as well as by anyone who likes atmospheric, dark and melancholic music. A perfect album in its genre.

Report this review (#71984)
Posted Wednesday, March 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Where the hell did this band come from? Sounding like a hybrid of Tool, Porcupine Tree and Dream Theater, this Polish band (a nation usually known for its excellent death metal bands like Behemoth, Vader and Decapitated) has quickly launched themselves into one of my favorite bands. I haven't been able to track down their debut yet, but, oh my, I plan on it.

The members are all highly talented. The basslines are fitting, nothing spectacular, but they get the job done. Same goes for the drummer, very solid work, but nothing extraordinary. The guitarist, however, is extraodinary, and extremely fun to listen to. His pure prog metal solos reek of emotion and absolute precision in choosing notes. Lovely lovely stuff. The vocalist is the same way, whether he is screaming or singing lightly. All excellent, he's one of the best vocalists I've heard in a long time. The keyboards are played very well, and help richen the compositions greatly.

Songwriting is next to perfect. Neither of the two epics get boring, and the shorter songs are of perfect length and structure. The album opens with After, whic his an excellent tribal-sounding opener with great vocals. It launches into Volte-Face, the most straight-forward song on the whole alubm. It's generally a rocker with some great vocals and screams. Nothing epic, but fun. Next is Conceiving You, which has a pretty piano line and some great guitar work. The thing that really makes this piece lovely is the vocal line, however, which is sung beautifully.

Next is the first epic, the title track. Words cannot describe. The track flows perfectly from one section to the next, and I wouldn't be doing it justice to describe it. All I can say is that this is some of the best work I've heard in years. After is Artificial Smile, which is probably the heaviest track. It features some excellent screams from the vocalist and is real fun to listen to while singing/screaming along. After is I Turned You Down, which you can hear on this site for free, so no need to describe it. Wonderful track, though. Next is Reality Dream III, an instrumental with more heroic guitar work and all substance, no wankery. It is also a very beautiful piece.

The next piece is the other epic, and is just about as good as the first one on the album. So I won't describe it, I'll just say, beauty. The closer has some beautiful vocals and concludes the album in a very satisfying way.

What a beautiful album. This is everything I like for in music. Highly reccomended.

Report this review (#72427)
Posted Monday, March 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.2 Stars

Stronger than the debut in all ways you could think of. Coherence, sound quality, textures, musicianship, songwriting, vocals, creativity, etc. It is heavier than the debut, so if you can tolerate that, Im sure you'll find this one the superior one. I think that this album is better than any albums from Porcupine Tree I own.

After not only is a great opener, but my favourite song from the band!!! Beginning with depressing whispers, the song turns into a hypnotic and complex orchestra of lamented wordless vocals and one taking the lead. A bit influenced by African music, but missing a lot of elements as well. The song ends with a melodic guitar solo playing with the wordless multi-layered singing. Volte Face is another highlight. A wonderful space prog-metal that goes through a lot of changes. The vocalist screams a bit here, which was an element absent in the previous album. Conceiving You is an effective ballad with very memorable melodies. Second Life Syndrome is a tour de Force with no filler at all. All the 15 minutes of it shine. It should be a prog rock classic and is almost as strong as something like Lateralus' title track and Shine on You Crazy Diamond. The instrumental break with a loud bass riff is one of the best parts in the album. Artificial Smile is a short rocker with some neat growls. I Turned You Down is a very well executed track that unfortunately sounds very much like a Porcupine Tree recording. It is still an amazing song. Reality Dream pt3 is a very good dark instrumental with lots of changes like the previous 2 parts of the Reality Dream. My favourite is still the 2nd one, but this one is very good. Dance With The Shadow is an excellent extended track with all the elements of the band that makes the music so captivating and enjoyable. A typical Riverside song. Like the debut, Second Life Syndrome ends the album with a mellow track.

Highlights: After, Volte-Face, Second Life Syndrome, I Turned You Down

Let-Downs: N/A

My Grade : B+

Report this review (#74084)
Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Sounds nice, what is it?", I asked my friend before The Christmas. It was Riverside. I got excited about this band and find some information. Then I order this album. It's funny and very accordable that this band come from Poland. Their sounds are Pink Floyd-Porcupine Tree mix and it works. Guitar sound is great, speciallly in solos. And Duda's voice is comprehensive.

After - This is kind of jungle/shaman-song and sounds mysterious. Very good. 8/10

Volte-Face - So magnificient guitarsolos through the song. Heavy but not too much. 8.5/10

But This album isn't so memorable. There's no so much parts that you could remember tomorrow. This is brilliant backround music, but not so good for sign for example. Still it is awesome.

Report this review (#74596)
Posted Tuesday, April 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars wow!, what a great listen this gem is. I love discovering music and I'm delighted by this band. The whole disc from start to finish is very good. A nice mix of melodious themes mixed in with some heavier guitar work, but never over done in any way. The vocals are exceptional and so is the musicianship. Like I say, wow! The recording is also very clean. It's not hyped in any one particular frequency which is all too often the case in "rock" productions. One of the freshest recordings in a long while. Highly recommended.
Report this review (#74817)
Posted Wednesday, April 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an excellent, enjoyable album characterised by melodic vocals and guitar backed by atmospheric synths, with regular heavier moments, reminiscent at times of recent Porcupine Tree albums. Longer tracks with a bit of everything, and shorter pieces with either melancholic beauty ('I Turned You Down'), or menace ('Artificial Smile'). Don't expect anything new or original here, but the quality is high. The opening track is a waste of time, but you can easily skip it!
Report this review (#75572)
Posted Thursday, April 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars An excellent album for long, calm evenings. Full of passion, emotions, with great vocal of Mariusz Duda. Their second album is more agressive than their first one but also very delicate and moving. For me Riverside is one of the leading prog-rock (or prog-metal if you wish) bands nowadays and the fact that it is still little known can be only their advantage - you still can listen to them live in a small pub in a very intimate atmosphere (well, in Poland where they are already famous it is now impossible but for example in Austria, France or Spain you can drink a beer with them after a concert) They can't be compared to anyone, it is new quality in this type of music.
Report this review (#77613)
Posted Tuesday, May 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars By far one of the most boring, un-textured albums I have ever heard. This band clearly wants to be better than it really is and makes it almost blatantly obvious with this release. I can't believe I wasted my money on this. All of the musicians on here are pretty talented, but everything is so cliched and unoriginal that it doesn't really matter. Very disappointing. Too similar to bands like Porcupine Tree and other Prog Metal bands to warrant a reccomendation.
Report this review (#77863)
Posted Thursday, May 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tony Fisher
5 stars Let's get one thing clear; I don't like prog metal much as a whole.For example, DT, Tool, Pain of Salvation are all highly talented musicians but their music does not really engage my emotions. This does, big time. They are excellent musicians, the rhythm section solid and interesting, the keyboards spacey and atmospheric and the lead guitarist quite exceptional; he sounds like Petrucci (for his technique) crossed with Andy Latimer (for his emotion and uncanny ability to choose notes and timing). The vocalist sings with passion, emotion and in a nice variety of moods.

There's a dark, haunting feeling which pervades the album, even though the songs come in a variety of styles. At times they can sound like Floyd, at others DT, at others there's a whiff of world music. Are they derivative? Yes, but when they play music as good as this, who cares? Favourite track is I Turned you Down (it's the MP3 on the band site that was the first thing I heard and it's stuck!) but there is little to criticise. After 3 weeks listening I was going to classify this as a solid 4* album but repeated plays have convinced me. I didn't think I'd ever give a 5* rating for a prog metal band, but this is worth it. I'm off to get their debut too.

Best thing to come out of Poland since Lech Walesa!

Report this review (#78826)
Posted Saturday, May 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Probably my favourite from 2005's releases,but soild 4 star album.Emotional,dark,greatly played and composed,but not the all-time masterpiece.These Polish guys just combined TOOL,OPETH,PORCUPINE TREE and played them in COLLAGE vein,so personally I consider them to be Neo-prog with great metallic side.The opening track is pure brilliance,I never heard something like that;"Second Life Syndrome","Artificial Smile","Dance with the Shadow" and "Before" are also have to mentioned as the best tracks. Highly recommended to all prog-metal/neo-prog devotees and especially for prog beginners - this is new DREAM THEATER( in question of popularising prog) !!!Poland becomes a prog trend-maker!!!
Report this review (#81346)
Posted Saturday, June 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars My knowledge about the band is not that comprehensive, but I remember vividly that I did review the previous album "Out of Myself" before. I cited the following: "RIVERSIDE music is a blend of space, psychedelic and symphonic with some influence of progressive metal. Band-wise it's a sort of influences from PINK FLOYD, PORCUPINE TREE, OZRIC TENTACLES, MARILLION (early) and DREAM THEATER / PAIN OF SLAVATION. Quite a lot of influences, composed in an excellent harmony with catchy melody in many segments. Vast majority of the music style is symphonic in the vein of space psychedelic music (50%) with some neo prog (35%) and progressive metal (15%). This is an excellent debut album.

As I had seen many excellent reviews about "Second Life Syndrome" at this site and my natural tendency to enjoy heavier part of prog like those presented by Dream Theater, Pain of Salvation, Symphony X, Kamelot, Rhapsody etc. I finally clicked the order to The CD arrived with me approx a month ago and since then I played the CD quite often. It's not something really different in music type as their previous album. But I don't know why I tend to like the album. The proof was that I played the CD almost regularly.

With 211 entries, and now making it into 212 with my write-up, and average rating of 4.36 I think it's clear that there is "something" about this album. I f I can define correctly that "something" it will revolve around an excellent combination of neo prog and prog metal music which differentiates Riverside from other "typical" progressive metal music. As I said before, there are bits of Pink Floyd and Dream Theater as well - that's what make this album is unique. Take example track 4 which is also the title track is basically an exploration of Pink Floyd music. You can sense it right in the beginning through the ambient guitar work which might remind you to David Gilmour. This song is probably the most amazing track out of all tracks presented here. But other tracks are also excellent.

Enjoying this album is a joy especially when I listen to the great combination of long sustain guitar solo / fills combined with keyboard work. The music resembles mostly neo prog music plus some heavy guitar riffs. The first time I enjoyed this album, it did not truly impress me only that the powerful narration by the vocalist at the opening track which is unique and enjoyable.

No doubt, this album is an excellent addition to any prog music collection and you should not to worry buying the CD. A bit of disappointment is for me the sound production. It's not badly produced but it's not as excellent as Porcupine Tree's or even Dream Theater. However the music is still really excellent.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#81408)
Posted Sunday, June 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This latest release from this underrated band is great, fun rock. As one reviewer has said, a lot of the music has a very "out of this world" feeling to it. To compare them to a band like Pain of Salvation or Pink Floyd is unfair, even while they may sound similar to such bands. They are very much different and have their own distinguished sound which will make you go, that's Riverside.

To lump this in with other prog metal acts would be an injustice. These guys sound nothing like Symphony X or Dream Theater, the "standards" for prog metal. Some of the moments in in this album are very aggressive sounding, however, a majority of the music is not that way. Most of the stuff here is pretty relaxing I have found, and allows the listener to be introspective. Ambient keys and a thick guitar tone really define this record.

A great build upon their previous work, Second Life Syndrome is a nice album that deserves more recognition than it gets. 4.5 here, not enough for 5 stars but more worthy than some of my other 4 stars.

Report this review (#82133)
Posted Tuesday, June 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars GOOD LORD!!!! i gotta say i loved Out of Myself but dude I REALLY LOVE SECOND LIFE SYNDROME. There have been alot of great '05 albums that came which really made it a grand year and this album really made it better as Riverside once again dazzles us by using emotion, atomoshperic moods, and prog metal to make a very successful record. i will say it is heavier and longer than Out of Myself but i think it is also a little bit better than Out of Myself in my opinion which is cool. The longer songs are great with a great groove rocker like Volte-Face, amazing epic with the title track, and an awesome intro into an intense heaviness with Dance with the Shadow. The shorter songs also bring a greatness to the album with such tracks like Conceiving You, Reality Dream 3, and I Turned You Down. Overall every song is freakin awesome and the band does a tremendous job doing what they do best. With Mariusz Duda taking off on vocals and bass. Man i was blown away with the clean vocals at how beautiful he sounds in each soft section along with the screams which at times really got my adrenline going. Then you got his bass player.....MY GOSH what else can he not do he is just so good on that bass with all the slaps and rhythms that he made in fact what impressed me the most he had this neat bass solo intro thing to SYS and he was playing that and singing it at the same time and i'm think how is he doing that. Cause you know there has to be a trick to that haha. Piotr Grudziński once brings back the great guitar playing he brought on the last album as he once again shows us that he ain't afraid to solo as much as he wants cause that's basically what he's doing. In fact in this album he reminds me alot of David Gilmour from Pink Floyd which is awesome cause honestly i don't think i've heard anyone that can capture the essence of Gilmour like he can. Piotr Kozieradzki is here on drums displaying that whatever the band is playing he can too with his grooves and tightness that he brings to the band and like i said if i wanted to be extremely tight i would want to be as tight as he is cause gah i dunno i just love his style kinda like a heavier Gavin Harrison from Porcupine Tree. This album however has a new member in that of Michal Lapaj which brought out the same thing that the last keyboardist brought and that was great background effects and awesome synth stuff the big i love about this guy is his use of organ in the background in some parts of the songs which was a really cool effect. So anyway this is just as grand as the last albums as the influences keep coming along as they have the jamming sections like Tool, the same atomospheric heaviness of Porcupine Tree, a similar musical and vocal sound of Pain of Salvation, and some similarity in riffs and vocals from Opeth so your definitely getting your money's worth when you purchase this album. But also if you love a band that can really capture the essence of Pink Floyd with just a big heavy structure gett it NOW ITS WORTH IT
Report this review (#82476)
Posted Sunday, July 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars So what exactly defines progressive music? Is it a particular style, sound, instrument, era, emotion?

For me it's very simple. It's simply music that you enjoy more and more, the more you listen to it. As opposed to music that you might enjoy on first listen but wears thin quickly. Good prog sounds better the 100th time than the first. This is the key difference.

So is Riverside a prog band? By this definition, to me it is. I waited several months before reviewing just to see how it stands the multiple listen test. And this band passes with flying colors.

Other reviews have covered the individual tracks, I will just add that overall, this is a group of musicians that have discovered the secret of tapping into the emotions that connect the listener to the musician. They are not virtuoso's, anymore than the members of Pink Floyd are. But like Floyd, one of my top 5 favorite bands, they "speak" to you, becoming less an entertainer in front of an audience and more a shared emotional journey.

After the top '70's prog artists, few bands in this genre have had a strong impact on me. Tool did a few years ago. Riverside does now.

Report this review (#84337)
Posted Thursday, July 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Modern accessible Prog as good as it can get! 4,5 stars really!

Having this record since quite a while in my collection and still loving it a lot after numerous spins already I've been really wondering whether it needs a rating #220. But since I reviewed as well their debut I think their excellent second full album deserves it even more. Well, what could I add what haven't been said before? There's definitely something about this album as Gatot mentioned already. I would say that is the capability to appeal to almost everybody whether young prog metal fan or old Floyd-follower. Though I'd claim I don't belong to neither of these two groups I've to admit they're able to fascinate even me (as an usually hard to be satisfied old sourpuss). They manage better than any other band, whether it's Porcupine Tree, Anathema or Green Carnation to combine features from both symphonic space rock and metal prog resulting in a highly appealing and captivating blend. Actually there isn't anything really that much innovative or PROGRESSIVE (in the literal sense) in their music. I would rather consider it as excellent "popular" rock music (no insult intended) meant in terms of accessilibity and to distinguish from "real progressive" (Avant) music like Kayo Dot is doing for example. Since both bands are listed in the same category I'm forced to compare them in a way though they don't have anything in common apart from the metal element. The lack of true innovation here on "Second Life Syndrome" is actually the only point keeping me off from giving the full score and call it a "masterpiece of progressive music". IMHO it is not, but truely an excellent example for "eclectic modern rock music" being catchy AND sophisticated at the same time.

Report this review (#84597)
Posted Sunday, July 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars

i had to order this cd from abroad cause it's not issued here in Greece and that only because i kept reading your threads and reviews about this 'new hot name' of prog...and i can't thank you enough you guys...

what i am listening to, here, is the best mixture of Tool, Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater and Anathema...these are already my favourite bands, so i just added Riverside..

what strucks me most about this LP is each and every one of the songs could stand on its own, with its own character and style, sth that only few can achieve..

brilliant songs, great lyrics, fresh but familiar sound, excellent production...the future of prog comes from Poland...

Report this review (#85718)
Posted Friday, August 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
King of Loss
4 stars Very Overrated album.

That's really what I have to say about all the glowing positive reviews on the top. This album is NOT a Progressive Metal masterpiece, but this band has yet to settle itself in the Progressive Metal scene.

Anyways, back to this album, this is obviously a well received and a well chronicled piece of Progressive Metal work and of course the second release by the Polish Progressive Metal band, Riverside. When I first heard this band, it was in 2003, browsing through the many sections of the Inside Out website. I first heard a strange uncommon band that sort of sounded like an insane combination of Pain of Salvation, Extreme Metal, Neo-Prog and other Psychedelic influences (most soundly of course being Floyd).

So I decided to check out this band, Riverside. I've rarely if ever listen to Polish Prog, maybe a couple of bands interest me, but this one really hit the floor. Their first album was quite good from this Polish Progressive Metal outfit, with the sad, lacrimose psychedelic Metal sound along with Neo Progressive tendencies of course. I was very excited about this band, so I purchased the first album, Out of Myself and find it very interesting at first, but I quickly grew out of it just like how I grew out of a lot of Metal bands that I now call 'generic'. The album was good, but not really that good.

Then comes Second Life Syndrome, their second Inside Out America release and I did not want to buy it, because I did not want to be as disappointed after 10 listens like the first album gave me. So I decided to download it and when I did, the music was completely different in a lot of aspects compared to the first album. The Neo Progressive traits that were so obviously shown in the first album were no longer present, but replaced by a sad, emotional almost- Pain Of Salvation like music, without the dramatic brilliance of Daniel Gildenlow of course. I must admit, I really did not like this album until I heard it several times and it constantly reminded me of Porcupine Tree, as compared to the first album mainly being a boring reminder of how some Progressive music/'generic' Metal was such a lull.

The first album was not very exciting and this one has yet to capitalize with me. Even though I liked it at first, it never really fully grew on me, the parts stayed the same, much like the first album, except in a much more brighter way. Second Life Syndrome was a very interesting track, along with the ballad-like Artifical Smile. The almost "pathetic" lyrics also failed to reach me. Overall, this album is a very good, emotional album, but not an album to go overboard on, especially the reviews before hand.

Overall, this album is about 88% or 4.33 stars.

I mean, this is a good album, but its not quite as good as most people take it to be.

Bottom Note: Riverside is a band that has grown on me and now love. They are definitely a band that takes time to grow. (A good hint of Prog music!)

Report this review (#88187)
Posted Friday, August 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars With prudent with which many people say to label to the bands of progressive present so that sometimes she turns out so annoying to do it since every time is more difficult since more and more and but the different styles are united sometimes as in the case of THE TANGENT headresses more than an influence this case is similar since these Poles do progressive a very calm one with moments of energy but nothing that the majestic passages do not dissolve like a sugar grain in a liter of water, I do not feel to this band within the metallic land, as he has catalogued himself to them and decepciónate is even made me somewhat that thus is put that it is a full work of almost space conceptual art, almost symphonic but always calm and variably hard, definitively something very good that is due to listen, something that is good for making notice it is that each instrument this defined good that makes me notice a dominion but directed to the writer of the líricas and bear DOUBT, as additional data I will say that the bands dominated by the guitarists do not have that virtue and many of the cases are those that more participation allows of the other members and a result as it is it "Second Life Syndrome", if they think a little to it will see that there is something of reason in which I say, clear that there are exceptions, a masterful piece that has made arrive at its owners to the ears of many people, one of the bands with more acceptance of the present time.
Report this review (#88671)
Posted Friday, September 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Riverside is a very insteresting band, thier on the softer side of Progressive Metal, but also very capable of making a very hard songs. It's got the soft, the hard, and the beutiful melody they always dish out. Riverside did start out really well too, with Out of Myself. They've got the structure and the talent. This is thier second album, and probably one of my favorite all time albums with Dream Theater's Scenes From a Memory and Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, Kamelot's Black Halo, and Rush's Farewell to Kings, 2112, and whatnot.

1. After: After is most likely the strangest of all the songs on this album. When I heard this song it took me a good while to get into Riverside, cause I thought the rest of the album would be like this. Still it has some qualities that makes it a better song. But once I got past this okay song I discovered what adventure layed after.3/5

2. Volte-Face: Volte-face is a really good song and carries the album on very well. It has plenty of their electric guitar melody, but also has some good hard riffs to throw in. It's an incredible song and I've always enjoyed no matter how many times I listen to it. 5/5

3. Conceiving You: a soft song made by these geniouses. I must say it's one of my favorite Riverside songs and has a beautiful piano. Give it a listen I'll guarentee you like it! 5/5

4. Second Life Syndrome: A 15 minute epic of pure instrumetal value. Once again Riverside deals an incredible blow to this song. It's got the progression, the emotion, the music, and even the lyrics. It's an awsome song, long yes, but when listening to the greatness of progressive, the length really never mattered at all. 5/5

5. Artificial Smile: The hardest song on the album and in my opinion well done. Artificial smile really puts angry in its place. With an awsome guitar riff it really carries the song away into the rage of Riverside. 4/5

6. I Turned You Down: The album calms down again and brings out some influence back from Out of Myself album. It's a little softer but does progress to get harder. It's a really, really good song and is even a sample here at prog archives. Give a listen and hear the great bass guitar that Mariusz Duda preforms. His skills littered through out the album with his masterful playing. 5/5

7. Reality Dream III: Of all the reality Dreams that Riverside release, III is definetly my absolute favorite. A good progressive tune with some hardcore riffs and melody. it's instrumental of course, which proves just how will this poland band can truely play. 5/5

8. Dance With the Shadow: a great epic to begin closing down the album. It's an awsome song that I often listen to. It's got a great guitar melody that I really love. The lyrics are interesing and Duda does good job singing it! Pretty eerie too! 5/5

9. Before: The final song to the album, and a good close. It's a great album and it really rocks too! The album really gives a good close when the person has changed for good! Yay! 4/5

All in all, this album just proves that poland can give us good music... really, it's a good album and a good band try it! This album as the emotion, the instrumetnal, vocals. A little bit of screaming that really doesn't decract at all. It's rather enjoyalbe, actually, it's just incredible. Give a listen. A Masterpiece of Progressive Metal 5/5 stars (4.56).

Report this review (#88803)
Posted Saturday, September 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is quite fantastic, while I'm not a big metal fan, this "symphonic metal" keeps my interest.

Well, where are the problems? I actually sense (hear!) some amateurish guitarwork and drumming is not the best here. But songwriting is excellent, the only really bad song I can mention is "I turned you down", where the vocals are quite annoying. Best song might be the titlesong or Reality Dream III. But in overall there are no really bad songs.

4+ really! Excellent addition to any prog music collection.

Report this review (#88806)
Posted Saturday, September 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars First of all I'd like to say that RIVERSIDE's Out Of Myself was the biggest surprise of 2003! What could you expect from a new prog-metal band from Poland (out of all countries!) anyhow?!

After getting fairly known to bands like AYREON, PINK FLOYD and RADIOHEAD someone suggested I should start listening to PORCUPINE TREE, OPETH and RIVERSIDE. I "discovered" PORCUPINE TREE in 2002 and what a discovery it was! This is presently my favourite band together with PINK FLOYD and I'm lucky to have all their studio albums together with some collectables. After PT I purchased OPETH's "Damnation" and RIVERSIDE's "Out Of Myself" at the same time and I just found myself listening to those albums over and over again!

Back to "Second Life Syndrome"! Now I think that I rated "Out Of My Self" too high with 5 stars, because I simply think "Second Life Syndrome" is more mature and therefore a better album. Let's say the 5 stars I gave for "Out Of Myself" was 4.5 stars rounded-up to 5 and the 5 stars that I will give to "Second Life Syndrome" is 4.8 stars rounded-up to 5 as well.

1. After (3:31)

Slow and mellow introduction to the album.

2. Volte-Face (8:40)

Great build up of the song with perfect instrumentation and singing with a superb ending into a pseudo-death metal voice in the phrases: "HOW FAR IS THE LIGHT?" and "I'M NOT AFRAID"

3. Conceiving You (3:39)

After the somewhat harder prog metal track "Volte - Face" here's a very emotional ballad showing the emotion of "insecurity" from a guy who loves a girl but does not dare to approach her and telling his feelings about her. (Haven't we all been there?!) Simply beautiful !

4. Second Life Syndrome (15:40)

This is my favourite track from the album! "Second Life Syndrome" is actually subdivided into 3 parts.

PART I - From Hand to Mouth

Slow build up towards a more up-tempo song with great drum and bass accompanied by FLOYDIAN guitar and really good chorus sung beautifully by Mariusz Duda. This chorus will also return in PART II. PART II - Secret Exhibition

PART II really slows down the tempo back to where it started with a beautiful played strong bass line! WOW! I just love the way Mariusz plays his bass: you can actally hear it as an instrument, so not merely on the background. Together with the lyrics "secret exhibition - cure for loneliness" this song is simply perfect. In the lyrics you can see that the songwriter has come over the "love of his life" and is happy to continue by himself. "I erase you now - I don't need you now - I erase you now with all of my past"

PART III - Vicious Ritual

Song seems to end after PART II, but continues slowly until the vocals go "totakakatee totakatee totakatee totakatee" Another part of this song that'll give you goose bumps whenever you listen to it. There is actually some fine singing of Marius Duda on the ending of this song, but unfortunately I can't seem to make up what he's actually singing. If I had to pick just one song from the album, this would be it!

5. Artificial Smile (5:27)

Often played at RIVERSIDE's concerts (I have seen them play live 3 times now ad they played it every single time). Not a bad song, but certainly no highlight either. I think therefore the song is somewhat too simplistic and poppy. However: I love Mariusz' pseudo death metal voice again at the end of this song. "Tell me your lie!" WOW! It seems it's coming out of his toes! This song seems to be about envy.

6. I Turned You Down (4:34)

Another highlight of this album! Lyrics are a bit short, butt hey perfectly match the song. This song is about regret. "I turned you down so hastily - and it's tearing me apart". It's nice to see all emotions are captured in this album. Love, loneliness, happiness, regrets. I especially like Piotr Grudzinski's howling guitar on this track! Just love his playing style!

7. Reality Dream III (5:01)

After the two instrumental tracks "Reality Dream I" and "Reality Dream II" on "Out Of Myself", here's the third part of this instrumental track. It's somewhat logical that you find this track on this album, because actually RIVERSIDE's first three albums will be part of a trilogy! The 3rd RIVERSIDE album we can probably expect somewhere in September 2007. Already looking forward to it :-)

8. Dance With The Shadow (11:38)

Another nice track about some relationship problems; basically about not taking a person who he/she is, but trying to make the person the way you want him or her to be. After listening to the lyrics of this song you can imagine how one would feel free and reliefed after the relationship has ended. (see track "2nd life syndrome")

9. Before (5:23)

"Before" is a track about a changed man who just came out of a depression and found himself eager to live once again. (Hence the title of the album?!) I especially like the build up of this track from a slow mellow track in a somewhat heavier track towards the ending. The ending is really superb with the guitar riffs by Piotr Gruzinski accompanied by Michael Lapaj on keyboards lifting the whole to a higher surface.

I strongly suggest anyone who likes PINK FLOYD, PORCUPINE TREE, MARILLION or OPETH (so basically any progressive music lover) to check out RIVERSIDE (if not already done), because their compositions, instrumentation, lyrics and especially Mariusz Duda's voice is all worth it! He's got a velvet voice that can whisper, sing and even growl now and then. Normally I am not really into the "growling" but whenever he does it, it simply fits the emotion (anger) in the music that I've become to LOVE it!

Once again: probably the best progressive album of 2005 and one of the best live performances I have ever seen! (I've been so lucky to have seen those guys during a live performance three time already and actually talked to Mariusz Duda twice :-)

P.S. Also check out the great artwork from this album by TRAVIS SMITH!

Report this review (#90862)
Posted Thursday, September 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. Very difficult to pick a favourite between their first two albums.This is the second part of the trilogy and it's a little heavier than the debut. RIVERSIDE blends so well that heavy, raw aggression with that dark atmosphere. I like the way they often take their time and let the song develope. Of course Duda's vocals and Piotr's guitar work are not only outstanding but that's part of what sets them apart from many bands.Travis Smith once again did the cover art. The "Thankyou's" in the liner notes are all in Polish interestingly enough. Although I can see the keyboardist thanks Jon Lord from DEEP PURPLE.

"After" sets the tone as we hear almost whispered vocals that imply we have a tortured soul here. Vocals before a minute with lots of atmosphere and drums.Guitar 3 minutes in. "Volte-Face" opens with more atmosphere before the song kicks into gear. Great sounding guitar after a minute. Vocals and synths 3 minutes in. Love the warm guitar leads here.Vocals get angry before 5 minutes. It settles 6 1/2 minutes in then we get emotional vocals a minute later. "Conceiving You" is simply gorgeous. My favourite track. The piano and fragile vocals are so moving, but then the whole song is. Even the guitar is emotional when it arrives 1 1/2 minutes in. "Second Life Syndrome" is atmospheric as guitar comes in.This reminds me of FLOYD. Gotta love the guitar 1 1/2 minutes in. Nice bass then vocals before 3 minutes. When it settles Duda's vocals are pure bliss. Check out the guitar after 4 1/2 minutes. Almost spoken vocals after 6 1/2 minutes.This is awesome ! Those amazing vocals are back 8 minutes in with guitar to follow. It's eerie 10 minutes in. More great guitar late. What a song !

"Artificial Smile" initially has a PORCUPINE TREE feel to it, but that dissolves rather quickly as this song really rocks out. This would be a great song to hear live. Angry vocals in this barn-burner as well. "I Turned You Down" is a powerful yet restrained song. It settles with vocals. Fantastic sound 2 1/2 minutes in. "Reality Dream III" is an instrumental that builds after a minute. Gorgeous guitar after 2 1/2 minutes as it settles somewhat. Heavy riffs a minute later. Powerful organ before 4 1/2 minutes. Another favourite for me is "Dance With The Shadow". Lots of atmosphere as reserved vocals come in. Guitar before 1 1/2 minutes then it kicks in before 2 minutes. It smokes ! Great bass lines and guitar solos. Angry vocals 5 minutes in. Just an amazing tune. "Before" is so inspiring. It really builds in intensity.

Simply a must for both fans of "Metal" and those who like atmospheric passages.

Report this review (#93555)
Posted Friday, October 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Looking for something along the lines of Dream Theater, I purchased this album because it was so highly regarded by the members of this site and categoried in the same Progressive Metal genre. What I expected and what I got were two different things. These guys don't sound anything like DT. Once I got over that surprise I hunkered down and started to open my ears to what they were doing. And now I'm glad I got it. First of all, the vocals are distinctive and somewhat reminiscent of John Wetton. "After," the first cut, is mysterious and moody as it showcases Mr. Duda's experimental side with countermelodies and harmonies intertwining around a mantra-like sound. "Volte-Face" was my first encounter with the dreaded Death Scream that I wasn't really prepared for. I'm not a big fan of the technique but, thankfully, he doesn't overdo it and I learned to accept it as a dynamic accentuation rather than a constant annoyance. The guitarist is very, very melodic and tasteful in his playing and it works to make memorable melodies while still managing to create huge metal sounds.

"Conceiving You" is a great change of pace song and it haunts you long after the cd is over. "Second Life Syndrome" and "Artificial Smile" are heavy and rockin', still maintaining the atypical mystical and occidental musical influence that permeates the album. "I turned you down" is another slower piece that is a highlight. And when Michal Lapaj interjects his incredible piano skills into the instrumental "Reality Dream II" it elevates the song into another stratosphere. Truly inspired. "Dance with the shadow" manages to spotlight every member of the group and then "Before" ends the journey much in the same way it began with a song that starts like a chant, then builds to an explosive end. The biggest problem I have with this endeavor is the fact that often the drums get drowned out in the mix and that's not good at all. Drums are so very essential to progressive rock that they need to be out front with the music surrounding them. From what I can tell Pietr is a fine percussionist but his work is sometimes hard to decifer. Hopefully their next release will rectify that problem. I did notice in the liner notes that the drums were recorded a month before everything else was so maybe that took away some of the spontaneity that I feel is missing at times. But this is only their second album so I'm going to give them a whole lot of slack and just enjoy what turns out to be a very good collection of songs from some musicians/composers who will undoubtedly continue to just get better with time.

Report this review (#96098)
Posted Saturday, October 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Great progressive/atmospheric metal band in the vein of Anathema. The music mixes aggressive songs with very heavy riffs, mellow ballads and progressive epics.

Songs on this album are: "After" - a mellow opener, great to set the mood for the following songs, "Volte-Face" - very aggressive, but still keeping music and vocals away from the extreme metal boundaries (a few growls here and there, but just to stress the heaviness of the music when needed), "Conceiving You" - an amazing ballad (piano and frail vocals accompanying the emotional guitar on this Opeth/Damnation inspired song), "Second Life Syndrome" - long epic starting in the vein of Anathema's "Emotional Winter" with a break around the 10 minute mark and a "mantra" like ending very reminiscent of Tool, "Artificial Smile" - frantic song with powerful riffs and vocals, "I Turned You Down" - another less metallic song (even commercial I would say), "Reality Dream III" - a heavy yet spacy instrumental - "Dance With The Shadow" - a longer song that blends all the sides of Riverside's music (slow and dark intro, heavy instrumental part, frail and harsh vocals, extended use of keyboards over very heavy riffs), "Before" - mirroring "After" as an outro to the album, a song that starts very mellow and then grows until the unleashed fury close to the end.

Rating: 91/100 (excellent)

Report this review (#96505)
Posted Wednesday, November 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
The Prognaut
4 stars I'd dare to say that I'm as amazed as the rest of the reviewers here that had submitted over two hundred opinions just for this particular album. And there's a reason to this massive display of summoning. "Second Life Syndrome" blasted off so eclectic and revealing to me from the first listen that I couldn't believe my ears since I managed to encapsulate the sound of Progressive Metal in a very straightforward stream. RIVERSIDE has got this uniqueness in spite of the musical inspiration they've put together randomly on previous albums through the years. According to the musical references given away by members of this outstanding Polish band formed back in 2001, Prog Rock artists such as GENESIS, YES, MARILLION, OPETH, PORCUPINE TREE, PINK FLOYD, PAIN OF SALVATION, FAITH NO MORE and many others, have been some kind of point of departure for them in order to take the flight onwards. But how is it possible to RIVERSIDE to sound extremely different? Well, that's the wonder depicted on "Second Life Syndrome".

The album kicks off with "After". Deep, dark, lyrics that relate the listener to some sort of inner self-talk that slowly describes the illness of a tormented soul. The musical arrangements are as enticing as the words in between giving this short introducing piece a devouring space that's superlative to the three and a half minutes it lasts.

And now, one of my favorite tracks on the album. "Volte-Face". What caught my attention right away, was the clarity with what Mariusz DUDA speaks in English. Not many non-speaking English bands accomplish this first hurdle in order to sound audible. Anyways, the song turned out to be powerful and relentless to me out of the first chords. I've always appreciated the sound of a paused, delicate piano within a stormy and lightning Prog-Metal piece and this one, ain't no exception. What it seemed to be a simple kind of pure hard rock song from the beginning, turned surprisingly into a narrative composition filled of precise lyrics and awesome interpretation in the end.

Then, "Conceiving You" came out of the blue when I suggested the album would take on a landscape full of crunchy guitars and thundering drums. Definitely, this piece blew me away. I do believe there's almost no room for schmaltzy songs within the depths of Prog-Metal, but this track is quite an opposite to my self-created pattern. The lyrics go far beyond from emotional, meaningless words since they've got a scent that speaks of reason, sentiment, and commitment.

Upcoming track, named after the album's title, has got all what's necessary to be considered a respectable "progressive rock epic". Without overreacting to what I listened on this song, I truly believe this is not an exhausting, hard to listen for over fifteen minutes suite. I say an epic is not measured out from the time a song lasts, but out of argumentation, durability, arrangements, narrative and many other ingredients that mixed up all together blossom in some exceptional corner stone where we can relate Prog Rock from. And I humbly believe, this is a song to be considered as such. Out of first glance, the song seems to be everything but exceptional. Everything but different from what we all have listened to once in our Progressive experience. Just listen carefully, separate each of your senses individually and maybe like it happened to me, you'd end up as amazed.

"Artificial Smile" is the suitable song for me to detail the metallic strength the album's got. The voice, the power set upon the instruments, the growing elements inside, the provoking lyrics. All of that, this song's got it. And I dare to say, even more than that. On the other hand, upcoming track "I Turned You Down", is a great metal-ballad executed wonderfully. Here, the lyrics go with the rhythm in time, accomplishing the purpose of captivating all of your attention.

When you're listening to "Reality Dream III", this massive amount of adrenaline takes on you irremediably. The wonderstruck piano showed up in here is and opposite to the sound of the blasting guitar that joins in. This instrumental song has no need for words to explain a peculiar motive since it speaks for itself in a relentless way. Top class metal displayed by RIVERSIDE. No more to say here.

Next on this progressive trip, the turn for "Dance With The Shadow" to set off from this review has come. Simply incredible. Two long play epics on one album? Believe it. The track takes a while to ignite, but the reward is fulfilling. As the song waltzes away, you'll get this feeling of drifting aimlessly for sure. Keyboards performance by Michał ŁAPAJ is overwhelming, distant from what's presented on this nine episode adventure. There's a complicity between a one-way chord remaining guitar and the beat held by Piotr KOZIERADZKI on drums. Suddenly, like a closing section, the song opens up to lead "Before" by the hand. Subtle and delicate. Great combination here.

All of this just to widely recommend this masterpiece to you all out there. Must place hands on this one, undoubtedly. More than an "excellent addition", I'd say an "excellent audition". Believe me when I say you won't regret lending ears and mind to this fantastic album for one second. Prog on!

Report this review (#98213)
Posted Friday, November 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars One day, one of my students came to me and asked me to hear "Riverside". I started and i'd never stoped until de end.

Saying that they are a prog metal band is a little tuff. They joined in their music a little of the good bands: (Pink Floyd, Dream Teather, Ozric Tentacles, with some almost epic voice sounds). Conceiving You is a beatiful ballad in my opinion, Second Life Syndrome is a great masterpiece, i love the way they play the bass. They have a lot of good ideas but the sound of record don't help. The guitar sounds like a floor unit pluged direct in the mixer, the rhodes (keyboard) sound can't be real, the drums caption is very closed, very damped...

i'm shure that with the right time, the right persons they will show us what they really are! I give him 4! 4 now...

Report this review (#100766)
Posted Tuesday, November 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Second life syndrome is truly a masterpiece of prog music. To begin with there's not even one weak track in this album, even the intro is great. Surely one of my favorite albums of all time. What I personally love in this album is its guitar lines and work. I really love that they keep it simple, melodic and clean with no exaggerations just to show a crazy technique, so thats why i believe every solo is great and beautiful. Anyway I wish they will continue like this and I'm waiting their new album, I wish its gonna be great.
Report this review (#104067)
Posted Thursday, December 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Riverside's first album, Out of Myself was amazing, so I was surprised to discover that their second album, Second Life Syndrome, was even better!

Second Life Syndrome is an excellent album, which continues (I think) the story from the previous album. It's great progressive music, whether it is metal or not. The album starts out very well with "After," with some brief talking at the beginning and chanting throughout the song. The title track "Second Life Syndrome" is beautiful, an amazing three-part composition. My favorite two songs on the album are "Reality Dream III" and "Dance with the Shadow." "Reality Dream III" is Riverside's third instrumental, capturing some of the heavier moments of the band. "Dance with the Shadow" is a fantastic track, being very dark and heavier than most of their other songs. The build-up to the climax of the song is amazing!

Riverside's second album is very necessary to have. It's not the most metal album of progressive metal, but it's a masterpiece.

Report this review (#104284)
Posted Saturday, December 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Well, ill keep it short, there are plenty of reviews here to tell you exactly who Riverside are and exactly what they play. Ill be quick and brutal. This CD is average, at best. For me, personally, i just cant get into this album. The vocals are quiet and monotomus (correct spelling?). The guitar tone doesnt seem to vary much, the bass is basic and the drums do nothing spectacular, and the keyboards are used in exess. The music doesnt seem to vary much in any way whatsoever. Also, id like to note on this not being progressive metal. There is very little actual metal and i personally would classify it as a neo-progressive recording.

The music contained, as previously mentioned, varies very little. These guys are obviously a talented bunch of men - but the music contained seems so boring and flat. Why cant these guys vary their theme a little? Why dont they try some nice chord sequences? No? Ok then, why dont they try to create some slightly up-lifting moments, some peaceful moments? No. They dont. I havent payed much attention to the lyrics but from what i gather, its all death, suicide and the boring, done before "i am depressed" motif that keeps seeming to reccur over and over again throughout the album. Ok, so Pain of Salvation have dark lyrics, and at times dark melodies, but what they can do - unlike Riverside - is change the music tone. PoS contains many up-lifting moments, many ear-freindly chords and dare i say it some "happy" music. This CD is just too damn dark for me, too slow, too boring and samey.

Oh well, thats just me, mabey you are differnet. Overall a 1.5 rounded up for tight musicianship alone.

Report this review (#112361)
Posted Friday, February 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Another disappointment in the prog metal category, which really doesn't surprise me too much. What you got here is a band that has obviously got some talent, but they use it to make music that does little to me as far as emotion or originality goes. Combine Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, and neo-prog and remove anything interesting and you've probably got something like this album. This is representative of a lot of prog metal today and simply doesn't stand up to the greats, who in prog metal are Opeth, Dream Theater, Psychotic Waltz, and Arcturus to name a few.

2 stars for the title track, which may warrant checking this album out because it's actually somewhat decent.

Report this review (#116415)
Posted Monday, March 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "SLS" is an average piece of hard rock that comes off smooth despite some of the painful subject matter of the songs. It jams with muscular guitar and percussion with layered keys and bass. The highlight of the album is the instrumental "Reality Dream III." I actually hear a little early 80s era Rush guitar and keyboard sound in a few places, most likely not intentional but interesting nonetheless. Not saying they sound like Rush, just that I heard a little of that sound mixture (of the guitar/keys) in a few spots. The lyrics are pretty good and I like the overall concepts which if I guess correctly concern fulfillment, alienation, loneliness, etc. They contrast the lyrics with music that is for the most part upbeat. I agree with the few reviewers who complained that there was some repetition to the songs over the course of the album. This becomes a problem the longer you spend with SLS. Initially you find the sound satisfying but over time there is little to keep the demanding prog enthusiast excited. And of course songs like "Conceiving You" are far more mainstream rock than they are prog so keep that in mind if you like to be challenged, this band could disappoint those fans.

After playing the album for over a year I had to lower my initial rating as it doesn't hold my interest. Compared to some of the great stuff out there this is really pretty old hat, generic, and definitely not essential. Riverside are a lavishly hyped band who whose overall rating for this album completely mystifies me. Musically competent but nothing special, I can't recommend this album.

Report this review (#120625)
Posted Wednesday, May 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I think that this album ranks only slightly above Out of Myself (although I am listening to Out of Myself right now and I wonder if I can really say that)

Just as Out of Myself was a clean, beautiful, well orchestrated album, so is Second Life Syndrome. It draws you in with it's powerful songs and holds onto you.

Volte Face is a good introduction to the album, and gives a taste of what is to come.

My favorite (this is a tough one) is probably the title song Second Life Syndrome. It covers all the range of emotions.

Reality Dream is another very good song, ranging from somewhat melodic and emotional, to heavy and chaotic. It also has a beautiful guitar solo.

Artificial Smile is my least favorite song on the album. This is the weakest in terms of creativity (but still not bad).

This is a must have album for any prog enthusiast.

Report this review (#120932)
Posted Monday, May 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars All you need to say for this album is WOW. This is one of the best albums I've heard in a very long time. It is technically sound, and beautifly orchestrated. Duda's vocal range is surprisingly vast, and can produce a soft, peaceful tone to flow with the keyboard and bass lines, or an intense, but not overwhelming tone that is synchronized wondefuly with the heavy guitar riffs. Musically, Riverside can produce a beautiful, easy listening ballet such as "Conceiving You", or bring you on an epic journey through multiple ranges and tones such as in "Volte-Face" and "Second Life Syndrome". These guys are masters of the "build up" song. They can start soft, and end heavy very smoothly, without you even noticing the change, or they can start slow, and blast right into some heavy shredding. they bring that death metal sense to the table, but it really only adds to the musical genious of the song. The "screamo" vocals (of which I am not a fan), and double kickers actually strengthen the music, and create an intensity that we all love in a song. It isn't overpowering or a turn off, but rather gves the song a control over our senses, much like Pink Floyd (not quite as heavy) in the early Gilmour years. All in all, this is truly one of the great albums of 2005, in any genre, and is a must have for anyone who wants to lose themselves in brilliantly orchestrated and technically sound music. (4.78/5)
Report this review (#121945)
Posted Sunday, May 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I am going to go on record and say that I love this album. It really throws in an overdose of the most interesting element in music - emotion. This isn't emo music, don't get confused. It is however a great blend of spacey music, beautiful melodies, and progressive riffs all placed together in a tightly mixed box. This is truly an album with something for everyone. If you like beauty, you'll like this. If you like anger, you'll like this. If you like instrumentals, you'll like this. I can go on and on. It is a disc that will never get old, and I can't wait until the next album from these guys. Second Life Syndrome is one of the most well-written songs I have ever listened to, and doesn't lose your interest for one second. This disc will keep you listening from beginning to end. It is truly beautiful. 5 stars all the way.
Report this review (#124128)
Posted Thursday, May 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I´M NOT AFRAID !!

No, i´m not, of being the 268 reviewer of this MASTERPIECE, and i´m not afraid neither of call it like that, even though a lot of proggers will say that word is reserved for the big and older names, i think this Polish guys have really earned it. Being just their second release, they have achieved what others haven´t in triple or quadruple as long.

Maybe if we were to create a new sub-genre, i will call this Neo Prog Metal (i think somebody said that already, but i´m not sure), but what i mean is that some of the Prog Metal fans will find this a little softer than the classic bands of the genre, and Neo Prog ones will find it a bit heavy. Anyhow i´m not saying they won´t enjoy it, actually most of the reviews are positive, but for the few that feel the way i described before, i just suggest to put your minds on a half- switched metal rank and the same for Neo lovers, and i´m sure you´ll join the rest of 200 something SLS addicts, like myself.

Ok, about the disc, i know i always say the same, but that´s true, there´s not much else i can add. Anyway what i will say is that i feel this release a bit darker and heavier than the 1st and off course you can hear how mature they are already. The departure of their original keyboardist Jacek Melnicki didn´t affect at all, i can say Michal Lapaj is at the same level or even better. The voice of Mariusz is more educated, as a lot of us know he didn´t started as a singer. His changing singing style a la Akerfeldt is becoming more pleasant.

What i do feel afraid of is that they gave already everything in this 2 fantastic albums and then start to run out of ideas and creativity, but something inside of me says that it won´t happen and that we are facing one of the future legends of Prog. But as i said before, only time will tell.

Viva el Prog!

Report this review (#127843)
Posted Sunday, July 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Even after two years of listening to this album, I still haven't found anything exceptionally appealing, which could partly be a stylistic incompatibility, as I am not a big fan of this drifting, depressive, soul-consuming sound. The album opens with a soft spoken monologue from the heavily accented Mariusz Duda. His tone and delivery is similar to the one of Mikael Akerfeldt, in that it's fairly void of emotion between the two extremes (aggressive and soft). "Volta-face" is a more metal oriented track, and here we realize that the musicians are quite good on their respective instruments, but far from virtuosos. "Conceiving You" is the single, a very dull sounding piece resembling Opeth far too much. The song also features a rather mediocre guitar solo, that sounds like Akkerfeldt at his weakest with off-pitch bends. Fortunately this is the lowest point of the album. Second Life Syndrome is one of the strongest tunes on this disc, with standard prog metal rhythmic progressions, and good hammond sound from Michal Lapaj. This brings me to another thought: it could be the sub-standard production that makes this album, especially on this song, which has omnipresent keyboards at the same time as fully distorted guitar. The drums falls into the background, drowned out by the loud keyboards and guitars battling for sound. It's not that bad, but it doesn't quite sound professional. That heavy reverb on a powerful song like this just makes it annoying to the ears. The song writing isn't the best either, being built on very overused chord progressions, and amateurish form. All in all, this band sounds to me like Opeth-lite, but if you like the sort of music that they make along with Porcupine Tree, new Anathema, Katatonia, then this might be what floats your boat!
Report this review (#129312)
Posted Thursday, July 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars "I have to turn my life around... But... I will still be myself, won't I...?"

Riverside again turns its music around, but still is succeed to be itself. From first song to last one, I can say that it makes us experience a real progressive-psychedelic wave with memorable, intensive melodies comprised by high-ranked instrument playing, emotional lyrics and well-arranged songs that two of them takes about 10-15 minutes the lacking of any boring part even one second. This album is a real combination of different kinds of genre like psychedelic, progressive rock/metal and ambient/atmospheric. I mean that if you like, you can listen to this album (to fall into this music, actually) with your beloved in the midnight by drinking red wine, or with your close friends during the discussions of love/life and death. Riverside will release the new album on september, 2007. So, we will be waiting for this "surprise".

Don't listen to it, just fall into it....

Report this review (#130047)
Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars With the album "Second Life Syndrome" I have opened one of the best bands of modern progressive rock. It happend with a lot of spontaneity while listing the top 100 of progressive albums. And I have to admit that I was't disapointed, I was very impressed. There are a lot of influences in the music of Riverside and I don't think that this band is prog metal band. A lot of psyhodelic, some sorts of art rock and of course prog metal in it. This band have it all. Good mellodies and metal passages are presented here and influense of Porcupine Tree fills a lot in keybord work of Michal Lapaj. In conclussion of my short review I want to tell all progressive metal fans or even fans of good music this album is album that you must have. 5 stars !!!
Report this review (#133707)
Posted Sunday, August 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, not much to add because previews reviews says almost anything about one of the best prog metal albums that I've heard. Not a masterpiece but really enjoyable, worth listening to and closer to prog than metal...

The three miniepics are my highlights: Second Life Syndrome, the longest song of the album, sometimes dark, some times very metal, sometimes closer to some Marillion sections specially in the epical ending (Grudzinski guitar solo sounds pretty much like a Rothery piece) but is a song full of power, sad lyrics and interesting athmospheres. Dance with the Shadow (11 and a hal minutes) is another great song even when it's closer than DT stuff but still dark and floating for some moments. At last, Volte-Face. Their almost 9 minutes are full of great guitar sections and surprising changes. THe best song of the album IMO. THe other songs are great to. The almost-ballads Conceiving You and I Turned You Down are really amazing and still epical, again woith great vocals and guitar sections. THe instrumental Reality Dream III is very powerful and complex and Artificial Smile do their part of being the most heavy song of the album. After (with those scaru initial whispers) is perfect as an overtuire and the melancholic and dark Before work wonderful as a finale.

Usually I don't like the keyboards in prog metal bands because they sound weak but in this album Michal Lipaj work is remarkable and Mariusz Duda vocals are simply awsome.

Great album and an interesting add to your music collection.


Report this review (#135736)
Posted Saturday, September 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars There is an amazing amount of review for this album (of which well over 200 without comments). I guess that "Riverside" is the most praised Polish band these days.

I really liked their debut album "Out of Myself". This release will hold several really good songs like "Volte-Face". A great metal song. It combines some "Dream Theater" as well as "Opeth" influences (especially during the growling part of the vocals, of course). Ignoring this would not be fair.

The soft and more "Riverside" oriented "Conceiving You" is just an apetizer for the epic song of this album. "Second Life Syndrome". It has some "The Same River" feeling. But harder. Lots of great guitar of course, and a fantastic beat throughout more than fifteen minutes. A true prog metal anthem.

This feeling is fully confirmed during "Artificial Smile". Pure violence but with little feeling (at least ot my ears). I far much prefer the style of "I Turned You Down". Spacey and quiet vocals, beautiful guitar sounds, and a great beat. Melodic, inspired. One of the very good song of this album.

Well, actually there will some other ones. The opening section for "Reality Dream II" is just fantastic. One is surrounded by these extremely aggressive riffs and at the same time one can only succomb to the charming guitar notes from Piotr. I have seen them live two years ago and even if it was a bit too metal-oriented I have to say that these young lads were quite a sensation. They are back again again in December (at the Spirit of 66 of course) and I will probably get there again. "Reality" is another highlight.

The second epic almost start as a spacey song. But it is only during the initial phase of the song. After two minutes, we are confronted again with these wild and so powerful riffs. Hypnotic, heavy but with such a feeling...A great guitar break enters the scene during the finale. Again, it is brilliant... and about time because this long song is a bit too much of the same to my ears.

"Before" reverts into a more symphonic territory. Great melody, ambient music, strong keyboards and as usal a wonderful guitar work. The tempo of the song will accelerate for the finale which will bring us again on the heavy side of "Riverside" music.

This album is definitely to be categorized (without wanting to "insult") into the true metal genre. If their first album was more atmospherical, with some "Porcupine Tree" influence at times; this one is truely at the heavy side of the musical spectre.

Three stars.

Report this review (#140108)
Posted Sunday, September 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars INTRO:

What a fantastic album! Perfect!! Flawless victory!!! Riverside at their best!!!! It's truly one of the best prog metal albums I've heard this year (and I've just finished writing a review for Riverside's latest release REM - also remarkable!). In my humle opinion (and as I see not only mine. Just browse today's forum topics about this band and you'll see) Riverside is one of the new progressive bands that is influenced (which band is not inluenced at all...?) not by classic well-known band like King Crimson, Genesis or Marillion, but by modern heroes: Porcupine Tree, Anathema, Tool and even maybe a liitle bit by Opeth.


"After" will stay as a magnificent prog track forever and you'll be tempted to listen to it ten years after you read this review. It's an amazin track with a really unique sound and the undercurrent frightens and enlightens, so to speak... "Volte Face" - power, brutality, rage, speed. "Conceiving You" is a mellow hit :-) "Second Life Syndrome" - an astounding and outstanding massive track that is divided into three parts each of them having its different feeling and emotions. THE BEST TRACK on this CD and one of the best (if not the best really) of 2005. The track "Artificial Smile" - rage and venom!!! "I Turned You Down" - a slower one. "Reality Dream III" - is it dream or reality?? PERFECT. "Dance With The Shadow" - perfect again. "Before" - prepare yourself... 5 stars!

COCLUSION: (Short, because ther's no need for more to say)

Yes, yes, yes. This album deserves 5 stars! NO DOUBTS about it!!!

Report this review (#142710)
Posted Monday, October 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a gorgeous album. Well written songs, wonderfully instrumented and brilliantly played: piano, washes of keyboards, superb languid and angry guitar playing, the rhythm section is ace too. Songs that shift in tempo and mood, great melodic lines - it just doesn't get any better than this!!

Points of reference for Riverside's soundscape are Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree. For me their music is more enjoyable than Pink Floyd's because they develop it further in tempo and hard rock edge than Floyd, so that you reaaly do feel that you are listening to a rock band, which isn't always the case with Floyd. So they've taken that kind of progressive rock towards Porcupinte Tree's more recent heavier work but not quite so far, in that they retain more melody and more variety of song construction than the recent PT.

My favourite on the album is "Conceiving Me" but there really isn't a weak moment.

Thoroughly recommended!

Report this review (#147518)
Posted Saturday, October 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Nastrovja Each time I listened to LOOSE HEART on my mp3-player I thought, yeee I have to buy this ANATHEMA CD. Since it was a RIVERSIDE song I eventually decided to buy 2nd Life Syndrome. Still remember that the day after I ordered Out of Myself and booked the first available live concert in the Netherlands. I have to admit that after Genesis (Selling England ..) and Yes (Close to the Edge) I have not been more fanatic in preaching to others to buy this CD. Now the problem is that some prog-people won't understand the hype about this band. So I leave it to my predisposed brain: my memes were designed to incorparate RIVERSIDE music. When I saw them live on stage I was surprised by how well they performed. A month later they played at ARROW ROCK in Holland. As of to date: They are the only band of this century that have over 300 ratings at ProgArchives. What more needs to be said. A masterpeice, 5 stars.
Report this review (#149549)
Posted Thursday, November 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars I am at a loss to understand why the most respected modern prog today mirrors not the classic Yes/Genesis symphonic axis but the depressive Pink Floyd mannerisms mixed with highly aggressive metal themes from King Crimson and the more overt stalwarts of that scene. While I have only heard snippets of groups like Porcupine Tree and Radiohead, I find they, like the relative newcomers Riverside, seem to fall squarely in the latter category. Echoes of Floyd's most irritating anti-social behaviour mix with occasionally violent vocal outbursts. In essence, both are sides of the same coin, a portrait of pathological solipsism, with every one of the few human interactions being interpreted in the pessimistic way imaginable. And those are just the lyrics and vocals. Unfortunately the music is also very much in the same paranoid mood which grows tiresome, and certain rhythms seem to be particular favourites of the group. The songs do change tempo within those parameters, that is, from sadness to rage, to the detriment of any sense of development within and between pieces.

Yet multiple listens do reveal a certain depth and many moments of guilty pleasure. For instance, the sometimes oppressive "Volte Face" has brilliant Middle Eastern themes, "Conceiving You" is a ballad which could almost be called beautiful. The title track doesn't quite gel as a complete work and also has to get past the first few minutes of Dave Gilmour tribute; luckily "I Turn you Down" is like a shorter more impactful version of it. I am not a fan of prog metal so I cannot give very fair assessments of "Artificial Smile", "Reality Dream III" and "Dance with the Shadow", other than they won't make me a fan.

Riverside does not seem to have invested a great deal in developing their own sound, but they can pull off pretty competent prog metal. The fact that I bothered to listen over and over and that it has in fact grown on me elevates it a half star, but I may not bother seeking out other releases. There's plenty more I'd want to check out before giving I'd consider reincarnating this band in my collection.

Report this review (#154792)
Posted Saturday, December 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars High time for the reviewing of a classic. And I think you can really call this a classic. It's also a class album by a class band. My first encounter with Riverside was a few years ago thanks to progarchives' download (now stream) at that time called Loose Heart from their debut album. I didn't think too much of it then, thought it sounded nice but no more.

Then two years ago this album came out and I heard nothing but praise about it, so I thought maybe they have improved or I was mistaking by not giving them the recognition they deserve. I bought the album and I can only say: both is true. They improved since their debut and they deserve much recognition. What a fantastic album this is. Bringing me to the always killing choise between 4 or 5 stars.

But first let's say some more about the band and the album. I always compared Riverside with Porcupine Tree, not quite the same style but there are resemblances and funny enough Mariusz Duda looks a lot like Steve Wilson. I think they are both real genii in what they do in music. To me Riverside has two 'faces' (sort of Jekyll-and-Hyde). The very quiet and ballad like side of which there are a few examples on this album and the much rougher side with a lot of power and even gruntlike sounds by Mariusz Duda. This side got them categorized in prog metal by progarchives and many others but I'm not totally convinced this is a real prog metal band but I admit there is no obvious alternative. Personally I like the heavy side best, in fact it's the only side I like about them because their ballads don't really appeal to me. I love the title track, it's a real masterpiece but also Artificial smile, Volte Face and Dance with the shadow are true highlights. The other tracks are far less to me and so that means only half the album rises up to the masterpiece status.

That means that 5 stars is a little overdone here. I have to limit it at 4 but in fact it's 4.5.

Report this review (#155189)
Posted Wednesday, December 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I´m one of the few on this page who likes "Rapid Eye Movement" better than this one. I don´t think it falls far behind though. I´ll complain as I did in my review of "Rapid Eye Movement" over the metal tendencies Riverside show in their music. I think their music is very beautiful, but the metal riffs and Duda´s momentarily gruff vocal parts are not my cup of tea. And it´s not because I don´t like metal, I listen to both Grind, Black and Death Metal. I just find their metal riffs kind of generic. Luckily it´s not that often they play like this, most of their music is nice progressive rock. When they play this genre they really shine.

There are some really beautiful songs on "Second Life Syndrome". Songs like Conceiving You and Second Life Syndrome show that Riverside is second to none. There are moments in some of the other songs though that I could live without, but I have already mentioned them above.

The inspiration from Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, Marillion and Tool are very clear, but never disturbing. I think Riverside mixes their sources very well, and make a great personal style out of them. Isn´t that what it is all about ? Finding inspiration and then creating a personal style ? Well I have no problem with the occasional "recognizable riff".

I think the production and musicians are great, and it is only small things that do, I like "Rapid Eye Movement" a little better. I´ll give this one 4 stars though, just as I gave "Rapid Eye Movement". I think it falls short of a masterpiece like it´s successor, but it comes close.

Report this review (#155244)
Posted Wednesday, December 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Riverside - Second Life Syndrome 5 Stars

What else can be said really? This album is amazing. Riverside took the original sound they created and simply mastered it, putting the riffs, lyrics, solos and vocals in an optimal sync. This album is much more dark and depressing then the first one, but the music is much more heavy in tone. Part of the responsibility for my analogy is a new keyboard player, which I mistakenly listed in the first album, I would change it if I was able. Michal Lapaj is featured on this album in the keyboard position and his presence is immediately felt. The keyboard remains atmospheric, but there is a lot more leads taking place, sharing the same feel as the guitar; good idea to me so things don't get too guitar oriented and redundant. This album also features Riversides first epic (going by the 15+ minute rule), which is the title track. It is their best in my opinion as there is such a nice flow to it and the musicianship just clicks with this track.

Another notable track is the third song in the Reality Dream series.and it is their best. You would understand what I am saying about the new keyboard position being a great change by listening to this track. This is not only another one of my favorite Riverside tracks, but one of my favorite instrumentals.

Now for the beginning of the album. It opens up with 'After' which also starts the concept of the album for those who did not know that this trilogy was already in the making. 'After' is a very unique track to start the album, there is an African style drumming and chorus, which is something I never really heard of before. Most of it is vocal work with yet another excellent guitar outro.

'Volte-Face' is the second song that really just sets the stage in terms of sound for the album. It features the heavy riffs and angry vocal work, but things get separated and brought back with some clever breakdowns. A good track, it is.

'Conceiving You' starts off as an excellent piano ballad. The whole band eventually comes together in the end and closes this track out, it's quite cool.

'Dancing with the Shadow' and 'Before' close the album. 'Dancing with the Shadow' is a mini-epic on the album. It's an even harsher version of 'Volte-Face' with some great guitar and keyboard work. 'Before' is the perfect way to end this album, unlike the mistake made in the debut. 'Before' has a very big post-rock vibe and the drumming is reminiscent of the 'After' track (for obvious reasons). Nice slow ender to a perfect album.

You should get it and see for yourself. This album is downright amazing. It is not the typical prog-metal album so for outsiders of the genre, there is no fear.

Report this review (#156621)
Posted Wednesday, December 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars From the moment that Duda's deep, dark, layered voice sweeps its lush way across the listener's ears hey will know that they are in for an experience. With Second Life Syndrome, Riverside proves that their excellent debut was in no way a fluke, and that they have more than enough new ideas and energy for a second go-around.

This album is decisively heavier, harsher, and angrier than Out of Myself, but retains the key elements of the band's now signature sound within the heavy guitar riffing-- namely Lapaj's lush keyboards and the feeling of class which come with Duda's vocals. The epic centerpiece steals the show for its fine arrangement and memorable melodies, but the rest of the songs more than contribute to the album as a whole, which will more than likely leave the listener feeling more than a little depressed by the end.

As a whole, Second Life Syndrome is almost as good as its predecessor, with a few marks taken away for the comparatively tired sounding Artificial Smile and Dance with the Shadow; additionally, Piotr Kozieradzki's percussion is sounding more and more outclassed by the dynamic playing of his bandmates; these however are minor complaints when compared to the excellent music to be discovered.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#156840)
Posted Thursday, December 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars As with any band that releases an excellent debut, there was some concern that Riverside wouldn't be able to follow it up, that 'Out of Myself' was just a fluke.

It wasn't. In fact, 'Second Life Syndrome' raises the bar about ten points higher.

So where to start? Album of the year, 2005. My second favourite album ever, from what is now my favourite band. Best vocalist in the progressive scene. Yeah, that's a good enough introduction.

What really stands out in 'Second Life Syndrome' is that every band member has matured. They were all outstanding musicians before, and the consistent interconnectivity of their style was one of the many things that made 'Out of Myself' stand out, but now they've developed their abilities to the point where it seems easy. The composition of each song is next to flawless. The album is a masterpiece.

While 'Out of Myself' explored Riverside's atmospheric style, 'Second Life Syndrome' focuses on their heavier side. Songs like Volte- Face, Artificial Smile and Dance With the Shadow are excellent examples of progressive metal, almost unparalleled in the genre. At the same time, each song upholds a distinguished atmosphere, along with a fluid progression that makes Riverside experts at the art.

'Second Life Syndrome' is the second part of the 'Reality Dream' trilogy. The album begins with After (following our protagonist's mental breakdown in 'Out of Myself') and ends with Before (leading into his recession into a dream world in 'Rapid Eye Movement.') It's a simple concept, and it gives the band plenty of room to explore a variety of progressive styles. The loose story connects each track enough to form it into a coordinated unit, but individually, the tracks stand out well enough:

After (8.5 out of 10) - This unusual opener starts with Mariusz whispering an introduction that brings in the album's premise - that the protagonist has broken down, and he needs to start anew. He has time to express one doubt - But I will still be myself... won't I? before the album truly starts, launching into a a tribal cacophony of vocal melodies, backed with equally tribal drumming and atmospheric keyboards. This song is all about mood, and it sets it very well. A sudden stop at the end leads into...

Volte-Face (9.5 out of 10) - A song that will remove any doubts you had up to this point about the album's sheer excellence. Volte- Face collaborates complex playing on everyone's part with wonderful vocals describing just what the protagonist is going to do to change himself. The track drifts in and out of heaviness while maintaining a hard mood throughout. This especially builds up towards the end, as every instrument grows heavier and Mariusz drops into a perfectly placed and executed growl - You can put me in the lion's cage; you can take my soul, give me a second name, but I don't intend to stop my fight, and I'm not afraid, NOT AFRAID! Volte-Face is an example of everything that's great about progressive metal. And it's not even the best song on the album.

Conceiving You (8.5 out of 10) - A very nice piano-led ballad that does everything right. Riverside kept it short and sweet. Following the biting edge of Volte-Face, it's a welcome change in pace, and its calming atmosphere is a prelude to...

Second Life Syndrome (9.75 out of 10) - The centrepiece of the album. And Riverside's second best song. This epic stops just short of the sixteen-minute mark, and it's divided into three segments, each a little better than the last (except the first one, which obviously has no predecessor.) The first, From Hand to Mouth, starts slow and ambient, then builds to an aggressive pace. The second, Secret Exhibition, is its mirror half, a lighter side of the song that repeats the same chorus as before, but in ballad form, driven by keyboard notes. After that part comes to a peaceful end, an atmospheric interlude takes over and introduces the third part, Vicious Ritual, an instrumental section that draws off the tribal mood of After. Each section blends together perfectly. This is one of those long songs that takes your mind somewhere else, and only lets up once it's over.

Artificial Smile (9 out of 10) - The most raw-sounding track, this one fires off with a heavy riff that leads the song. With sardonic lyrics and hard chords throughout, this is perhaps Riverside's most straightforward rock track, and they do it well. At the end of the song, Mariusz once again launches into a furious scream (TELL ME YOUR LIIIIE!) which is great to shout along to. Artificial Smile isn't anything groundbreaking, just metal done the way it should be done.

I Turned You Down (7.5 out of 10) - Here's what I consider the low point of 'Second Life Syndrome,' simply because it doesn't stand out. It's a good enough ballad, but on an album like this, perhaps another Reality Dream should've taken its place. Speaking of which, the next song is...

Reality Dream Part III (9 out of 10) - The most 'epic' of the four Reality Dreams. This one starts with a light buildup of clean electric guitar and keyboard notes, then explodes into a heavy-metal chorus before settling back down into its previous pace. Probably the best of Riverside's instrumentals, it sets a very nice mood while staying fast and heavy throughout. (As a side note, I posted a video on Youtube called Halo: Reality Dream, which samples the song.)

Dance With the Shadow (9.25 out of 10) - BEAUTIFUL intro. After two minutes of keyboards and gentle singing, the song explodes into the album's fiery climax, an eleven-minute track full of hard riffs, scathing lyrics and, yet again, flawless cohesion with the whole band. Most of the song builds up to its own last lines: I can almost see the light, feel its warmth, and touch the moment I was waiting for so long. So carry on for me now, the die is cast; with open arms I'm standing out against my past. This is one of Mariusz's spotlight moments. The rest of Dance With the Shadow stays heavy until the very end.

Before (9 out of 10) - Ending the album on a sombre note, Before feels destructive. The protagonist has changed himself, acknowledges that he can't go back, and realises that in the end, he's made a terrible mistake. Mariusz delivers this epilogue with simple lyrics. Keyboards lead in the song's first half, then electric guitars slowly take over in the second half, until one last heavy chord and a background scream bring to an end one of the best albums I've ever listened to.

One of the best albums I've ever listened to. You know what I'm saying. Buy it. Now. This is one of the few masterpiece albums that actually deserves a five-star rating. To say it's highly recommended would be a gross understatement.

Report this review (#158132)
Posted Tuesday, January 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars After reading all the positive reviews of Second Life Syndrome I just had to give this album a chance. My verdict is that it's an amazing album by this promising polish band!

The album has a unique sound by a mature band that knows what they want and how to achieve those goals. I actually liked the album even more after seeing the band play some of these compositions live on their Rapid Eye Movement-tour. Mariusz Duda is a really gifted craftsman and seeing him playing the bass sections of Volte-Face while keeping the spark in his vocals impressed me beyond words.

Being their, so far, most acclaimed release I don't feel the need of writing a tedious track-by-track walk-through since these have been done before and I don't have much to add to those remarks. Except maybe for the fact that, during Volte-Face, Mariusz Duda plays many of the upcoming guitar-sections on his bass just before the guitar which makes for an interesting contrast.

If you've never heard Second Life Syndrome then I can guarantee that you're missing out on something spectacular!

***** songs: Volte-Face (8:40) Dance With The Shadow (11:38)

**** songs: Conceiving You (3:40) Second Life Syndrome (15:40) Artificial Smile (5:27) I Turned You Down (4:34) Reality Dream III (5:01) Before (5:23)

*** songs: After (3:31)

Total Rating: 4,27

Report this review (#161570)
Posted Monday, February 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars What moves you?...

Whatever it may be, you'll find that Second Life Syndrome will find that weak point in your heart, and caress your soul. I'm talking about the feeling of emotion. There are multiple examples of this central element, that permeates this romantic album. First case and point, the dynamic beauty of Mariusz's vocals. The gentle softness of his voice sounds beautiful and vulnerable, then comes the swell of change, and out bursts his strength and power. And while still sounding just as beautiful, the new emotion gives way to a new idea. Complimenting his vocals are lyrics just as touching, the centerpiece being the secret admiration of a girl who does not realize he exists. Then there is the sweet synergy of the guitar and keyboards, both singing together perfectly. Yes, I said singing . Just listen to how the guitar holds notes, and twists and bends them. Or how the keyboards flow like a kind of ethreal dream. The way these elements- the words, the vocals, the instruments- come together creates a kind of feeling, and wonderful kind of feeling. Emotion .

Second Life Syndrome. Don't just listen to it. Feel it.

Report this review (#161781)
Posted Thursday, February 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Riverside offer a pleasing progressive metal that differentiates itself and offers a nice contrast to the larger, more recognizable names in the genre. The idea of Pink Floyd metal has been thrown around a lot in reference to the band which I feel to be somewhat unfair. The correlation isn't there, and every band that embodies a spacey atmosphere and tasteful guitar solos into its music need not be compared to Pink Floyd.

I can't compare this album relative to other works from Riverside as I haven't heard any, due in part to this album. The music here I would best describe as pleasant. When it comes time to play it I enjoy my experience. However, I fail to find anything spectacular or incredibly special from the band. They certainly don't do anything to offend me, but they fail to really pull off something that grabs my attention. This album is a lot of fun to listen, it has the feel of classic rock almost in that sense. Some great melodies and guitar lines really catch my ear, but the album rarely does anything more than that.

A few of the songs on Second Life Syndrome sound the same too me and the entire affairs runs together when I listen to it. I think the length hurts this album, and it could have been conceived with more strength if it were shorter. Overall though I enjoy this album, and I have to say its one of the safest album I think you can buy in the sense of I see nothing that will really turn off any potential listeners. A good album, nothing more and certainly nothing less.

Report this review (#162257)
Posted Wednesday, February 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Very, very good progressive music with a prog-metal edge, RIVERSIDE's second album misses out on greatness but is thoroughly competent in all aspects.

To compare this Polish band to prog-metal greats such as TOOL, PORCUPINE TREE and DREAM THEATER is not to demean them: they do have their own sound, nascent still but more audible in this album than in their debut. Instead, the comparison is designed to help the new listener place this band in the ranks of progressive offerings.

But it doesn't quite make a full five stars. There are not as many hooks as I would have expected: with such depressing subject matter, there needs to be a reason for the listener to return, and the music, while having all the ingredients, is somewhat predictable. Who, on listening to this album for the first time, would not expect 'Volte-face' to sound as it does, given the TOOL-like opening track that precedes it? And RIVERSIDE is unashamedly retro: I haven't heard guitars like those that open the title track, for example, since DIRE STRAITS in their pomp. After listening to this album I tend to go and listen to something from one of its influences, a sure sign the band haven't yet truly found their own voice.

RIVERSIDE are somewhere near the best of the current crop of retro-prog rockers, but don't stand comparison with the likes of THE MARS VOLTA, KAYO DOT or SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM as purveyors of cutting-edge prog rock. This album is about as good as - I'll say it carefully - any that wears its '70s influences so obviously on its sleeve. If you're a fan of the 70s sound you're in for a treat. Don't delay, purchase this immediately. Otherwise prepare yourself for a good, but perhaps not great, experience.

Report this review (#165954)
Posted Monday, April 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow!

I was searching around to find some nice new progressive metal other than Dream Theater, then my uncle, who is a huge European prog fanatic, introduced me to this band, Riverside. I was doubtful at first, not expecting much, and I was blown away after listening to the opening seconds of Volte-Face. An excellent, excellent progressive metal album; it really has no lows.

1. After--a nice introduction; sets the mood and atmosphere for the next track.

2. Volte-Face--powerful opening with cryptic percussion entry. A powerful track.

3. Conceiving You--echoing of Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree, this track deals with sensitive subject matter; the lyrics reflecting depressing emotional problems of the protagonist.

4. Second Life Syndrome--The title track of the album certainly lives up to its name. Powerful vocals, and interesting chord progressions, this composition is possibly Riverside's magnum opus.

5. Artificial Smile--A fast paced, simple progressive metal piece. Clearly influenced by Opeth, with Mariusz Duda's growling segments throughout the song, finishing off with an outburst.

6. I Turned You Down--A nice, Floydian intermission between the fast paced, riff-infused Artificial Smile and the upcoming track. Very fitting.

7. Reality Dream III--An instrumental track, showing off an evident Rush influence, but perhaps a bit more epic, with a little bit of a neo progressive twist.

8. Dance With The Shadow--Another highlight of this excellent album, this track deals with schizophrenia and conflicting personalities of the protagonist. Another dark track; truly epic nonetheless.

9. Before-- A nice conclusion to the masterpiece that is Second Life Syndrome, it once again touches upon dark emotions and internal problems, effectively closing off this album.

An awesome album. I highly recommend this album for fans of groups such as Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, Tool, & Opeth.

Report this review (#173869)
Posted Friday, June 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Yay! Second album from the prog geniuses that are Riverside. Can it live up to the first one?

After starts off with some heavy accenting dialogue, with some 2112 like ambient noise backing it up. This becomes this vocally lead tribal rhythm, which is mega cool on every level. This leads eventually into some guitar effects near the end. This song is guilty of being amazing. (9/10)

Volte Face starts out with the creepy alien FX, then with the horribly mic-ed drums. Oooh, what a concept! This leads in to some, very Porcupine Tree influenced music. VERY. Prominent organs make this song all worthwhile. The guitar lines are quite intense as well. The difference, from what i'm hearing so far, from their first album; Time signatures. They're more obvious and complex in this record. This then morphs into this amazing bass driven section with great guitar playing. So far, this is way better than its predecessor. More intense, more raw. In come the vocals. Not as powerful and present as on the first. With the vocal harmonies; Porcupine Tree really rubbed off on these guys. I noticed something. The music gets more intense every time Martiusz screams and exerts his vocals. NOW. I must say, the drumming on this album is far more superior. In fact, during the piano break, the drummer is doing something I've been doing for awhile, way before hearing these guys. Something I picked up from Jason Rullo of Symphony X. The guitar solo is amazing as usual. The bass break is interesting, with the organs creating that irresistible atmosphere. I like the line And those dream less nights. This album sounds much more metal than the previous one. Proof? Double bass line at the end of this song. Not once on Out Of Myself did I hear double bass other than for a quick fill. Awesome song, but the ending sounded somewhat sloppy. (9/10)

Conceiving You is a piano driven ballad. Something about Watching You (?). To be completely honest, I don't know the story behind these records, I don't care either. The music is good that's all that matters for me. The bass line is very nice and the guitar playing is excellent. Most of Riverside's shorter songs surprise you near the end with a weird time change or style change. This one didn't. Bummer. (8.5/10)

Second Life Syndrome! The title trask, a fifteen minute monster. I can't wait.

PART I - From Hand to Mouth

Very Floydian opening, reminds me of Shine On You Crazy Diamond. So far so good, the bass line is constant and intense, the drumming is tasteful. The guitar soloing is very interesting. With the organs again. Woah, was not expecting that time change. Jesus....what is that time signature??? I can't even wrap my head around it. I love the synth in the background. This song is FLAWLESS so far. Very awesome chorus, great singing. The instrumental sections are really amazing, i'm still completely stunned by that time change. It's so out of this world.

PART II - Secret Exhibition

Slow moving and heavy at the same time. Genius. The mellotron in the back is really emotional. Great singing, top of its class. I can't stop praising this. I could go on forever about this song, but I won't, because my girlfriend is IMing me. Just a flawless masterpiece of progressive music from start to finish. (10/10)

Artificial Smile, sounds TOO much like Porcupine Tree. It's really awesome though. The pre chorus is so well written. Great song with a great instrumental section. (9/10)

I Turned You Down, is not all that interesting. It's the obligatory filler song on any Riverside record. (8/10)

Reality Dream III, the third in the saga. Starts off with a nice bass line. Now, all the Reality Dreams share common traits. Bass lines, drumming. So forth. So I felt a little bored when listening to this. I think they use too many traits, and It just sounds sort of crappy. (7.5/10)

Dance With The Shadow, starts off very atmospheric, like the last album. Then the voice pops out and reminds me a little of a video game I used to play. Then the sweeping synths come in. I can tell this will be epic. Then it rams you with amazing drumming and great keyboards. This is REALLY prog metal at it's finest. Then with the vocal breaks AGAIN. This song however, gets amazingly intense and crazy after the 5 minute mark. It becomes this relentless circle of soloing from all factions of the group. These guys deserve a medal or something, because this stuff is nothing short of epic. Then, it gets amazing again at the 9 minute mark. This song is just relentless in every way and keeps you begging for more. Best song on the album. (10/10)

Before, another great ender. Althought they mix it up and add some thrashing near the end, instead of a minute of silence. Nice ender. (9/10)

Overall I found this album to be a small letdown from the awesome atmospheric experience of Out of Myself. It was still very solid though, just heavier than what they first made. Worthy of heavy recognition.

4.5 Stars

High Points: Dance With The Shadow, Second Life Syndrome

Low Point: Reality Dream II

Report this review (#176237)
Posted Sunday, July 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars A good album by a good band, I'm listening to Second Life Syndrome right now. I like it, even though I can't consider it as a memorable masterpiece.

Their music is a mixture of well-processed influences. What I like most is the Porcupine Tree taste, expecially the darker aspect of them which you can find in tracks like Dance with the Shadow or Artificial Smile. The heavier parts can remind the classical prog-metal sound, the more mellow ones (Conceiving you) make you think to a darker version of Pink Floyd or Blackfield.

The whole album has a dark feeling above it which I really appreciate; the balance between heavy parts and mellow ones is a little pending towards the second, which I find less interesting. By the way the whole record is a great piece of prog-metal.

So what does it lack? I think we can find two major flaws. First, the whole thing is not very original: as I said, the influences are very easy to figure out, but the last result is not a perfect product of originality. The second is the poverty and plainess of the sound. Even if the atmosphears are great, dark and tense, there is no very depth in it. The singer's voice is quite monotone (despite some excursion in growling which make me change my mind sometimes) and the guitar sound is quite artificial. The whole album sounds a little boring, and that's a pity because the ideas in it and the musical ability of the four are worth of notice. An example of this can be the global atmosphear: as I said it's a dark album, some have pointed out at Tool as influence: we may agree, but if we compare Riverside to Tool we find the first terribly porr of depth and complex emotional gamma, and the disquieting touch of the second.

So a great album, surely worth a lot of time to listen to it, but not a special and original piece of work.

Report this review (#176493)
Posted Friday, July 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Prog Metal...... but not like Dream Theater or any other band. Actually; Riverside is what they are; a band from Poland. Dark and brooding. Just like the death metal scene from the same country. It must be something in the water there......

The associations to Pink Floyd is not as strong as I thought they would be on this, their second album. The reference to Pink Floyd was much stronger on the debut album. I get a lot of associations to Pearl Jam's debut album when I am listening to this album. Only the woodpecker in my beard knows why. Porcupine Tree is also a good reference. But most of all; Riverside is a unique band and so is this album.

The music is driven by both guitars and organ. Actually more guitars than keyboards. The vocals are superb too. The epic title track is brilliant and so is most of this album. I do understand why this band is so popular and I this album is most definite a keeper. I do feel this album has more layers which I have yet to penetrate and it will most definite be on my play-list for a long time together with the rest of the Riverside albums. Riverside is a band I am keeping an eager eye on.

4 stars.

Report this review (#188053)
Posted Wednesday, November 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
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.

Report this review (#188574)
Posted Sunday, November 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Riverside - Second Life Syndrome review#1

This is my first review on progarchives, although I've been following the site for a looong time and I've read many, many great reviews here. I hope I'll contribute to this great site myself.

I'll do song by song review with fragmentary rates which will make the final rating.

1. After - An intro-like-song that leads us into the album nicely. You could hear vocal layers with oriental, hypnotic motives. 3,5/5

2. Volte-Face - Great lead-in track, which erupts suddenly, then there's an interesting bass line. Not as good as The Same River from their debut, but in a similar manner. 4/5

3. Conceiving You - One of the most melancholic and beautiful ballads ever created. Perfect melody line and a heart-catching guitar solo make it a perfect song. 5/5

4. Second Life Syndrome - A masterpiece. Everything fits in perfectly, the vocals are simply stuning and the guitar solos could last forever. 5/5

5. Artificial Smile - my least favourite song on the album, still rocking, but nothing special compared to other pieces. 3,5/5p>

6. I Turned You Down - sad, beautiful song with nice lyrics, which are full of regret. If I could turn back time - that's basically the lyrical concept of this song. 4,5/5

7. Reality Dream III - that's the best instrumental piece from the group of Reality Dream I, II, II - really technical with contribution of all band members. 5/5

8. Dance With The Shadow - one of my favourite prog-metal pieces of all time. It has it all: melody, mood and pace alternations, heaviness, complex compositional concept, technical abbilities are also shown by band members. 5/5

9. Before - the song finishes the album in a good, strong way. The song calms us down after an intense, sometimes severe, but enjoyable ride. 4/5

All in all a great album with fantastic, strong songs, interesting lyrical content, very good musicianship and quite well produced for an progressive metal (but not as flawless as Porcupine Tree's Fear of a Blank Planet for example).

The band has a handicap with me, cos they're from my city (Warsaw). I've been following their career almost from the beginning and I'm proud that they came up with such a great album. They are giving phenomenal concerts also, I've seen them 4 times already and every single one was better than the previous.

Overall rating: 4,39/5 which rounds up to 5 stars on my personal scale

Report this review (#200293)
Posted Friday, January 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars How do you improve on an excellent debut? Add a lot more power.

As I've mentioned, Riverside's debut was a breath of fresh air to modern progressive rock from a country which isn't exactly well-known for prog. Their sophomore effort definitely took it up another notch however. Unlike the debut, the metal influence is very clear and visible, and I can honestly say that this is a progressive metal album, rather than a progressive rock album like before.

The guitar riffs have also significantly improved from last time; they are now very crushing and powerful in the way one would expect progressive metal riffs to be. However, if you're afraid that the psychedelic feel and sound to their music is gone, have no fear. It's still there and very noticeable, especially on the opening track, After. However, we also notice how there will be much more of a metal influence on the buildup and opening riffs of Volte-Face. Overall, this album is a very good mix of psychedelic-inspired progressive rock (with a modern feel) and progressive metal. The standout tracks for me are Volte-Face, the title track, Reality Dream III, and Dance with the Shadow. All of them are a great mix of metal and psychedelia and highlight the band's sound very well.

If you want to hear one of the highlights of progressive metal from this decade, definitely check this album out. The very atmospheric keys mixed with metal should be a major delight to fans of slightly heavier progressive rock, and may even turn some prog rock fans on to progressive metal. This here is a keeper, and worthy in every way of 5 stars.

Report this review (#202119)
Posted Sunday, February 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a really good album: but its not a masterpiece

The sound produced is something on this album is allong the lines of colliding PORCUPINE TREE, PINK FLOYD, THE MARS VOLTA, and TOOL together into a rich and lucid mixture called Second Life Syndrome. This is RIVERSIDE's second studio album and is part two of a trilogy. They claim not to be Prog Rock, but with an album like this, you have no ground to stand on.

A slow introduction called After slowly draws you in with some incredible layerd vocals and percussion. This then brings us into Volte-Face; with great guitar riffs, dark atmospheres, jazzy drumming and a rich voice Riverside built this song and the entire album. Conceiving You is a gorgeous ballad that starts with a repeated piano theme and travels into some guitar melodies and vocal accompanyment. Then comes the best track which is also the title track. The listener will never loose interest for the entire fifteen minutes. Then some hard-rock riffs as in the introduction of Artificial Smile which is the darkest song on the track list. I Turned You Down has that excellent bass line and the weeping guitar melodies again. Reality Dream III is an excelent instrumental which is part three of Reality Dream I and II off of Out of Myself, their first studio album. Dance With The Shadows, is the second longest track which starts off with some Celtic style vocals and eventually turns into a heavy track. It evolves though several moods and tempos. Closing the album out is Before : another showcase for the fantastic vocals.

Many have stated that Piotr Grudziński's guitar is the what makes this album. And it is indeed one of it's biggest strengths, but not the only one. There is much more to this band: the deep and rich voice of Mariusz Duda for instance, whispering, screaming, raw and soft. His bass lines are inventive and played like a lead instrument every once in a while (I Turned You Down is a pretty good example). Michał Łapaj's keyboard: a bit in the background is always there to serve the music, but the song Conceiving You is almost carried by him alone. And last but not least, Piotr Kozieradzki's drums: firm, creative and not overdone (a common complaint I have about some metal bands)

The Production is clean, more so than a lot of metal bands in the same genre. The musicianship is event that these musicians know how to play! The only problem I have with this album is that it gets old after the first few times you listen to it. I dont know if its just me, but was bored with it after the tenth (?) time I listened to it. The guitar melodies also start to sound the same on every song (same range, tone etc.)

This is a remarkable album that is worth a listen for any prog fan. Anyone looking for prog metal without high pitch or death vocals? How about a drummer who knows that overplaying and riding the double bass every song can start to get annoying? This is the prog metal band for people who dont like prog metal. An excelent addition to ANYONE's collection


Report this review (#202547)
Posted Thursday, February 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is one of my most favourite modern(90s-00s) albums. Second Life Syndrome is the second album from becoming popular in prog world polish band Riverside, and definetly their best one. It's not a that kind of album that is getting boring after several listening, I find it even greater after a few years of listening to it. About inspirations, it's harder to compare music contained on this album to other bands than their debut, they definetly gained more unique style. Guitarist, Piotr Grudzinski is definetly a fan of the Pink Floyd, but he likes also heavier, metal riffs, what I must say is the great mix. Bass lines provided by Duda, who is also a vocalist are very intresting and sometimes bass is leading the instrument in some songs. His vocals are changing in almost every song. The mood is not so mellow like on Out of Myself, there is more darkness and energy. The best songs like Volte-Face with awesome guitar work and agressive vocals, and epic Second Life Syndrome, are song imposible to describe :D

Report this review (#209441)
Posted Tuesday, March 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is such an exciting band and album to listen to. It's great to see that original, quirky, excellent music is not dead in the new millenium. There are no weak points on this album. There are quiet pats and then there are even a few growling vocals but everything flows so well it is pretty hard for me to come up with any negatives at all. The vocals are mostly very emotional and very well done. It is hard to belive sometimes that this band is from Poland, because the English is pretty flawless. If you have never heard Riverside before and dismiss them because they are Progressive Metal, then you are missing out on a great band.
Report this review (#218187)
Posted Monday, May 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars At the begining I though that Riverside is a band of one good debut album. They surprised me! Second Life Syndrome is better than excellent Out Of Myself. This is second part of Reality Dream Trilogy and it is very similar to OOM. However now it is less progressive rock, but more progressive metal. All is more considered.

1. After - it's a good, dark and short introduction.

2. Volte-face - the best progmetal piece which i've ever heard. Many genious riffs and some good solos.

3. Conceiving you - beautiful ballad, beautiful Grudziński's solo.

4. Second Life Syndrome is a quintessence of Riverside's style. 15 min. long composition (Title track) has all what they showed us before and some more ideas. Definition of word Riverside.

5. Artificial Smile - solid metal riff. Heavy side of Riverside.

6. I Turned You Down - interesting melancholic piece.

7. Reality Dream III - instrumental metal song with dramatic solos of Grudziński and Łapaj.

8. Dance with the Shadow - the most expanded song (without SLS) with ideal end.

9. Before - fantastic ending of this masterpiece. At the begining it's slow, dark song, but at the end heavy riff with horrible scream of Duda end it with shudders on shoulders.

Report this review (#222941)
Posted Wednesday, June 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Second Life Syndrome continues on the same path as predecessor and splendid debut "Out of Myself", blending stark Floydian atmospherics with harsh metallic complexities, ushering in the plushest melodies from Michal Lapaj's keyboards and Mariusz Duda's anesthetized vocals. On "Volte-Face" the tension becomes palpable, with leaden riffs detonating the instrumental ammunition, guitarist Grudzinski daring to inject some Jimmy Page-like explosions in his rhythm work, bleeding off some sanguine solo rips while Duda rails in comatose wrath (the growls!), the piano interjecting some well placed romanticism and the overall feel immersed in troubling paranoia ("Had a dream last night, sleepless night, do you mind?"). The lovely "Conceiving You" is more attune with a ballad, a gentle melancholic frolic that proposes fragile introspection in direct contrast to their usual hard edge. Piotr Grudzinski displays a virtuosity that seeks out the most vivid emotion, not just a mere shredder. Now that proper appetizers have been served, the 15 minute 3-part title track becomes the piece de resistance, a pure Floydian soundscape that shuffles in deep and deliberate psychedelia, slowly blooming into a full-fledged explosion of sturm und drang, Duda's bass throbbing like some endless migraine and welcoming in the rhythm machine. The first slippery guitar solo parallels the forlorn vocal pleadings, inducing a few more raging growls as the organ swells with unabashed contempt. Simple yet oh so effective in creating a doomsday climate, the vocals emote powerfully within the schizoid context ("There is no turning back"), soaring plaintively with profound pain, launched by a huge guitar foray into the fluffy clouds as the electric piano motifs anchor the gloom. The disturbing whispered mid-section corrects the aim, increasing into a massive swirl of synthesized carpeting, both bass and electric guitars carving out hypnotic furrows. The romantically sustained and effect-laden guitar solo actually has some Mike Holmes tendencies, he of IQ fame. Bravo! "Artificial Smile" suggests a musical etude in hypocrisy, an angrily disappointed rant on human deceit with rumbling disgust and quasi-metalloid frustration emanating from the lead instruments, careening close to mellotron-drenched heavy prog, similar in style to their bosom buddies Porcupine Tree ("I hate you because they love you"). It nevertheless becomes evident that these Polish lads have their own style down pat, not content to merely emulate but actually going beyond the norm. The effusive anger expressed here is downright scary. "I Turned You Down" is more polished and hence less rambunctious, with huge swells of sound, the bass cockily shepherding the way. Duda wallows in frozen pain, tearing him apart, a despondent track full of imaginative creativity, with some supple drumming from the other Piotr, definitely a highlight composition. "Reality Dream III" propagates the previous two instrumental exhibitions from the debut with another masterful musical exposé, a pulsating steamroller of sound that explodes into harder realms, kept slightly soft by some dense keyboard colorations but really nothing more than a solid platform for Grudzinski to fly into the heavens with his six stringed instrument, while riffing like a man possessed. "Dance with the Shadow" is an 11 minute showcase that builds within placid atmospherics, a twisting electric guitar waving its wand and evolving into a roller coaster ride that buzzes, swoops and dives like some wayward missile gone astray. I am no fan of the growling vocals (I find it a bit silly, being a grown up!) but it's just a brief detail that doesn't linger on the radar screen. The P Tree resemblance can be uncanny but Wilson and Grudzinski have diverging styles, so it's hardly a clone just a similar context. The moodily reflective "Before" brings this sophomore release back to home plate, not a home run like the debut IMHO, but a worthy effort none the less. Barely 4 dill pickles
Report this review (#229716)
Posted Monday, August 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Two years after the release of their debut album, Out of Myself, Riverside came up with another masterpiece that truly placed them among the biggest names in the current prog scene.

Essentially, Second Life Syndrome follows the footsteps of its predecessor (as to be expected since this is the second part of the Dream trilogy that culminates with Rapid Eye Movement). Energetic guitar parts? Check. Emotional compositions that reaches deep into the listener? Check. Dreamy keyboard soundscapes? Check.

These elements form the core of their music and with Mariusz Duda's dynamic singing, completes the signature Riverside sound. It's hard to offer a worthy successor when so high an expectation is placed considering the benchmarks set by Out of Myself, but Riverside has done a tremendous job here that deserves all the accolades that come their way.

4.5 stars rounded to 5.

Report this review (#232210)
Posted Tuesday, August 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars The first track is “After” and it gets going in about 40 seconds, following the brief whispered introduction. It has a slightly different feel to the RIVERSIDE I’m familiar with, the drums giving a different mood than those of the previous album. But the song is still melancholic enough, especially vocally, with some high female singing towards the end; a great track which serves perfectly as an introduction.

We move on to Volte-Face, the instruments build up from silence and the feel is a bit more rock orientated. And when the guitar kicks in – now that’s what I’m talking about! Piotr has such a characteristic way of playing and his choice of notes instantly lets you know its him, in both the riffs and solos and that is one of the things that makes RIVERSIDE what it is. The song moves on through some heavier riffs, refreshing when combined with organ sounds and juxtaposed with mellower sections and this demonstrates the variety in “Second Life Syndrome”. “Conceiving You” is a much lighter song, perhaps even the ballad of the album, but don’t let that put you off – some truly brilliant melodies, showcasing the wonderful emotion in Mariusz Duda’s voice and also his talent on bass guitar.

The highlight of the album is definitely the title track, an absolute Prog masterpiece, in every section. So many atmospheres are created and covered and it really is quite amazing that it’s almost 16 minutes long yet never drags at all. There’s not much more I can say about it, the guitar and vocal melodies, once again are so beautifully emotive that in fact this is one of my favourite Prog epics of all time. “I Turned You Down” also need a mention as a truly special track – quite slow paced, but magnificent once again. And following that, the “Reality Dream” trilogy is finished off in part 3, adding more to the addictive 7/8 time signature already established in parts 1 and 2 from “Out Of Myself”.

One nag would be “Artificial Smile”, a song with a more rock vibe to it, which for me is a bit misplaced with the other songs and which I actually find quite annoys me, but then again, that’s my opinion and it’s a solid track nonetheless. The musicianship by all is very good, especially during some of the more Proggy passages and production is very nice too. As it is one of the best albums I ever heard it wouldn't be fair not to give 5 stars. Solid 9.5/10

Report this review (#238124)
Posted Tuesday, September 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars First of all!: This album represents almost deserves a 4.9 vote. Maybe the only imperfection is represented by the first song..a bit slow..but then from song 2 to song 9 there is nothing say: simply a progressive masterpiece. Maybe only "Anno Domini.." is better. I thought when I bought this album in 2006 that Riverside (or any other progressive band) will ever be able to produce another masterpiece like this (of course before listening to Anno Domini...) but this is another story. I think that Riveride is the best modern progressive band and maybe in progressive's history and with this album they reach a perfect mixed between their classic sound and bit harder and metal sound. 2 songs represent this factor: "Conceiving you" and "Reality Dream 3". So real progressive fans if you hadn't hear this album yet don't hesistate go out there and GET IT! You won't be disappointed.
Report this review (#242087)
Posted Wednesday, September 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars MUSIC STORM This one is rapidly taking my "music-dedicated" time by storm, like a landslide is making its way through my preferred listenings...Invoked by the rave reviews on PA, after an unusual (for prog music) limited mumber of spins I could almost immediately get pleasure of the 'core' of the album: the magnificent "Second Life Syndrome" (ah...that guitar working around A, D, Bb, G, F...sublime 'floydian' flavor) evolves all along its 15', and the part with electric piano overlapping the bass around 6:00 and gentle voice is a masterpiece on its own. Around this the other immediate petals are "Conceiving You" and "I turned you down", where in this last the Gm superbe start is evoking once again the "Shine on you Crazy Diamond" progression, without being copy-paste. All in all, I like so much the keyboard work of this album (the rock organ burns really on my ears, I like so much this instrument), tied with great guitars, hard and gentle at times. After the usual 8-spins limit, indeed all the others pieces come to surface in its own light, with weird and haunting pieces like the opening and closing acts. Congratulations RIVERSIDE, just for this I immediately ordered the next "ADHD" with great expectations... A great band for our times.
Report this review (#254063)
Posted Thursday, December 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Second Life Syndrome is the most representative of Riverside's first 3 albums. I could apply most of the criticism that I have with Riverside again but I will refer you to my review of Out Of Myself for that, assuming you would want to hear Riverside-criticism. However, on SLS, Riverside managed to add some nice surprises to their Anathema meets Marillion stew.

The opener is the first one of those; it's almost an a-cappella intro with beautiful vocal harmonies, some soft percussion and background synths. A strong and very atmospheric start. Volte-Face and Dance With The Shadow are typical Riverside epics, featuring long instrumental intros that go through a number of metal-proggy themes and riffs, followed by a rocking main body with lyrical vocals and ending on a dramatic climax. Nothing revolutionary but enjoyable, especially the first one.

One of Riverside's strong sides is actually balladry and the short rock song. Conceiving You is a fine example of that sugar-sweet pop style and I Turned You Down is one of their best tracks ever. But they also manage the prog epic format quite well, the title track Second Life Syndrome is flawless. The instrumental Reality Dream III is another pleasant moment, it's one of the few places where I can actually hear them having some playing fun. There's a nice ELP vibe in the last minute. The album has only one weaker cut, Artificial Smile is rather artificial indeed, the gruff vocals are too overstated and sound out of place on this album. It all ends strongly in true Porcupine Tree fashion with a slow Floydian space epic.

There are few moments on this album that I get really excited about, it's all pretty monotonous in the end. But I can't help loving it and it's perfectly fine album that might serve as a good introduction into prog rock, sub-genre: Prog-Lite.

Report this review (#264075)
Posted Wednesday, February 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars dum-dudu-dum-dudum-dum,dudummmm...

I'm loving the sound coming from RIVERSIDE, and with "Second Life Syndrome" they show us what they are all about.

Dark, moody, rhythmic, melodic, energetic, great vocals - everything is here.

I love Duda's work on the bass.

We know that these musicians love to 'dance' with those rhythmic motifs pouring out of their amps (if you've listened to any of their album's you'll know EXACTLY what I'm talking about). We love them for their signature sound and will continue to do so in the years to come.

"After" and "Before" are ominous, beautiful tracks. "Volte-face" is a personal favourite of mine. The title track is great, but could have benefited from some more contrast, perhaps adding a few more melodic ideas, since it is quite long.

The album builds to an incredible climax, culminating in "Reality dream III" and "Dance with the Shadows"

Top album! A must have for prog-metal lovers!

4.2 stars!

Report this review (#278133)
Posted Thursday, April 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars 7/10

"Second Life Syndrome" is one of the most important prog metal albums.

Polish band Riverside arrives at their second album in 2005, the second of a trilogy dedicated to the unconsciousness of man. The album, Second Life Syndrome, is considered by many their best album yet, and one of the most important albums of progressive metal. And let me say that I totally agree. The album is journey through the confusion, the preoccupations and the anxieties of man in the new millenium, an impressive record that many will not forget easily. The style isn't typically "metal", because many times it's more concentrated on the prog side. Always has a melancholic feeling, and a slight touch of grimness and mystery.

"After" is a beautiful song, very calm but very melancholic, with the large use of vocalisms.

"Volte Face" is great, aggressive, with many metal moments, as well as experimental ones. Fantastic, one of the best of the album.

"Conceiving You" is another calm and beautiful song, with a really nice piano that accompanies Duda's great voice.

"Second Life Syndrome" is the 15 minute epic piece, no doubt the best song in the album. Many moods , rhythms, and melodies, all beautiful and powerful, effective and very emotional. A masterpiece.

"Artificial Smile" is another excellent piece, very catchy and I think it could have really been released as a single, and of course it could have drawn many peoples attention.

"i Turned You Down" is a great song, a little calm but effective, like almost all the songs in this album. It has a great melody, initially I underrated this song a little too much.

"Reality Dream III" is the last of the trilogy. Similar to the other too for the structure(all three are instrumental), it is still great and it never bores.

"Dancing With the Shadow" is the second longest song in this album (11 minutes). Similar by structure to the title track, but I think its slightly inferior, even though this one has many great moments, sometimes amazing.

I'm not so crazy about the last song, "Before", I find it kind of flat and repetitive.

However, this is one fantastic album, essential for whoever loves prog and/or metal.

Report this review (#279677)
Posted Wednesday, April 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Those Polish people, coming over here, taking our jobs. To be honest, if some Polish guy is taking your job, then you must be pretty bad at it, is what I usually say to racists.

There is an amazing, quite hidden music scene in Poland, with some amazing Prog (and not so Prog) bands, like Osada Vida, these guys, and Behemoth (thats the only ones I can remember).

But these guys are quite an amazing bunch, taking a sound that can only be described as mellow Opeth or heavy Porcupine Tree, displaying both opposites, and becoming their own anthithesis, quite ironic. But it works for these guys.

I had to order this in my local HMV, cause they were too bad enough to have it. But I was glad the day I got it. But I don't need the hassle of going through that, now that I can shop online (but I mostly buy obscure power metal bands online).

Yea, this one amazing album, it really is something unique, and these guys can really make a piece of music interesting.

The artwork (done by that whore Travis Smith), is quite good as well, and the booklet smells amazing (Inside Out booklets always have an amazing smell, try it, if that doesn't seem to weird).

1. After - Nice atmospheric intro with some nice Sikth like poetry. The rest is almost Arabic like percussion with a heavy drone and spacy vocals.

2. Volte-Face - The intro is very droney. The following riffs sound like a mixture between Black Sabbath and Opeth. The intro is an amazing mixture between prog metal and jazz. The vocals are very Katatonia with the layering and the spacy atmosphere to his voice. Pretty cool chorus. The piano solo is also amazing. This song has a very spacy, almost Hawkind vibe to it.

3. Conceiving You - Very beautifull piano based ballad with some great vocals and very Pink Floyd like guitar work.

4. Second Life Syndrome - Wow, what a song. Very atmospheric instrumental intro. The off beat rhythym throughout is very effective. The chorus is amazing. The second part shows a more No-Man like side, very mellow. The chorus also returns and is perfected, but slowed down as well. I love the almost scat vocal like section. The third part is an instrumental, showing a recurring theme that is played at least once by each instrument, which is very classically inspired (Concerto Grosso, yea, classical music has helped me alot). This song is said to basically sum up Riverside's sound, and yea it does. An amazing song.

5. Artifical Smile - Sounds like if Opeth were to cover punk songs. I love the chorus, Mariusz's vocals are very angry. One of the best songs on the album i my opinion.

6. I Turned You Down - A very atmospheric ballad like song, with an amazing effective chorus.

7. Reality Dream III - Wow, what an amazing instrumental. The piano bit at the end sounds like if Iron Maiden were to play Final Fantasy music.

8. Dance With The Shadow - The intro has a very ominous drone and the vocals add a quite beautiful eerieness to it. When the main riff in the song comes in, the song just clinks together, into wondefull fruition. Amazing guitar solo at the end.

9. Before - The intro sounds like a droney Aphex Twin song. A very Opeth vibe to this song, reminds me of Isolation Years off of Ghost Reveries. A nice Porcupine Tree like way to end the album. I like the scream at the end that fades out.

CONCLUSION: An amazing modern Prog album. If you haven't heard of these guys, then I suggest you get this album, and maybe some of the rest. I hear their new one is even better.

Report this review (#281147)
Posted Sunday, May 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars A friend of mine at work who was more of metal fan (death, heavy, et. al.) yet complicated and sophisticated in his stance (could argue the relevance of growls/vox, etc and has opened my ears to many new approaches to experiencing music) was leaving the parking lot one day and jamming to some Metallica...I jumped his situation and offered a bit of progressive guidance, as it were - - I told him about this band that I had recently discovered from Poland - RIVERSIDE (thanks again to my nephew) he said - "hook me up" and I did ...needless to say - - Second Life Syndrome is a masterpiece of prog metal that united both the Prog head and the Metal head! I challenge anyone who likes things to evolve before them to listen to this masterpiece of a heavier prog metal formula and to retort in any way that this album is not a masterpiece within the genre. By the way - - He later emphatically requested all of the Riverside I had.....An absolute gem!
Report this review (#288408)
Posted Saturday, June 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars 2.4/10

So here we are with Riverside's second LP, 'Second Life Syndrome.'

After hearing raving reviews about this album, I decided I had to purchase it. I was looking for a modern prog album highly ranked on the Top 100 List, and this seemed to satisfy.

Right off the bat, the music seems to capture the listener with the opener "After." The album starts off strong with the aforementioned introduction, "Volte-Face," and then "Conceiving You." These tracks seem to create the first 'chapter' in the sound of the album. Everything after the third track really seems to drag down the quality of the album. The music becomes a very bland, over-cliched technical-prowess showcase. Think of the most basic Dream Theater/Porcupine Tree/Tool/Marillion sound and that's usually what you'll find here in the album. The music takes too many blatanly obvious influences and puts them out front, as if saying, "These are bands we love and we want to sound like them as much as we can." I'm not one to judge an influence a band has on another band's work, but here it's much too present.

The lyrics are very sub-par, somewhat restrained and come off a bit too anxious. "Artificial Smile," track 5, is perhaps the best example to show off the very weak songwriting.

The general atmosphere of the music is quite dark, yet there are some glimpses of uplifting meoldies and sounds. Some of the better moments can be found in parts of "Volte- Face." "Conceiving You," "I Turned You Down." The opener "After" is quite good, and quite addictive with the many vocal harmonies; My favorite track, though it's quite brief. Mariusz Duda can sing quite well, but too many times he holds back when it feels like he should let the emotion in his voice run.

I'm not the biggest fan of prog-metal, though that has nothing to do with my opinions on the album. Overall, I find it much too derivative in sound and overall performance. Though they are quite astounding musicians, Riverside unfortunately let their influences take over their creativity too many times for this album to be considered a 'masterpiece.'

Report this review (#290475)
Posted Thursday, July 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Riverside have become one of the greatest hopes and realities in the european progressive movement for the last years. Their second album is my favourite and it establish the passional landmarks that have made them famous and loved. They are masters combining ambients and dynamic riffing on quite dark, melancholic, even ghostly moods. They are tagged as prog metal but I find their music quite symphonic in classic terms.

The keyboards offer a soft pillow to the contundent and dynamic drums, being the guitar sound by Piotr Grudzinski the real identity from the beginning to the end. All in all, the vocals by Mariusz Duda are the highlight in their work, so passional, so warm, they really remind me to Vincent Cavanagh from Anathema (also the guitar sound has something to do with it).

Here we fin real classics as the haunting Conceiving You, I Turned You Down or the miniepic Second Life Syndrome. I was very lucky to see them performing live in Granada on the Systematic Chaos tour with Dream Theater and it was a marvellous experience.


Report this review (#291920)
Posted Monday, July 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars My first encounter with Riverside took place when I had bought their newest record, Anno Domini High Definition. I was bewitched, It turned out to be highly addictive. But after a few weeks with ADHD I decided to check, apparently, their opus magnum, Second Life Syndrome.

Now it's obvious to me which Riverside album is the best one. Second Life Syndrome is that kind of musical work which transfix with genuine passion and emotions. All tracks are there on purpose, making up one consistent musical creation - it's a real masterpiece of progressive rock!

Since many reviewers compare this record to Anathema, Marillion, Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd and Opeth (quite wide range of genres, isn't it?) I will try to avoid such comparisons. For me Second Life Syndrome is, first of all, an album of honest emotions expressed in a bit vintage sounding prog metal convention. Beautiful work of hammonds and ephemeral synths combined with understated, emotional guitar riffs and solos, nice bass work and fantastic vocals - in this way I would describe this masterpiece.

There are only two tracks I won't call masterpieces, but still like them. I mean Artificial Smile and Before. The first one seems to be a bit out of the concept (I do not mean the lyrics). It's punk in a way, more aggressive at first glance, but it developes into very good prog metal song. Before on the other hand is a kind of outro, it's good also but not as good as the other songs.

I highly recommend this album since it is great atmospheric progressive rock/metal. 9/10

Report this review (#297318)
Posted Friday, September 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars After much deliberation, I'm going to classify Second Life Syndrome as essential--check that, absolutely essential--but stopping short of calling this a masterpiece.

Let's review what this album has going for it: 1) a foursome of very talented musicians who play with a sense of passion and urgency, as if they really have something to say, 2) an interesting and captivating overall theme that never turns cheesy, and 3) a large amount of extremely well-crafted music. All this screams essential prog in my book.

So, what's preventing masterpiece designation? One is consistency, as the first half (beginning through the end of the title track) is masterpiece level to my ears, but the second half falls off a bit, with more of the brooding from their debut album and less of the passion from the first half.

Labels and technicalities aside--let's get to the music! After is a fantastic intro, with the creative, intense, and smooth vocal side of Duda, nicely finished with some moody, passionate guitar from Piotr G (a running theme with this album). Then Riverside get down to business with Volte-Face, showing their full capabilities as performers and songwriters in moving from bouncy, catchy riffing to passionate ambiance to the skull-crushing metal finale.

The title track and Reality Dream III also deserve special mention, because they encapsulate some of my favorite qualities of the band. Here Riverside move expertly from pensive, delicate passages to absolutely colossal symphonic eruptions. Remember, this is only four players, and Duda, Lapaj and Piotr G really are in sync to put these pieces over the top. I just can't get enough of this stuff.

I have truly enjoyed watching this band evolve, as well as purchasing their largely high-quality releases. These guys really seem to be on the same page, they are a classic case of the whole being more than the sum of the parts. Now if only we could get some more Riverside tour dates in the States...

Report this review (#313219)
Posted Thursday, November 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars An album of nearly perfect production: There are not many albums out there whose sound clarity, engineering, and mixing can compete with the quality of this one. Simply breathtaking! While neither heavy prog nor prog metal are my favorite sub-genres, this was one of my first acquisitions during the 'prog listening renaissance' I've undergone since 2006. I immediately appreciated the sound, musicianship, and production; it has taken me quite a while longer to decide whether I appreciate and/or like the music. The answer is: Mostly. I immediately loved "Conceiving you" and "Second Life Syndrome" and now love "I Turned You Down," "Reality Dream III," and "Before." "After" and "Dance with the Shadow" are both excellent songs, while "Volte-Face" and "Artificial Smile" are just not my style. I have no doubt that this album should rank among the best of this 21st Century as it is so powerful, so well constructed, performed, recorded, and produced. A 4.5 star album which is down-graded by me only because the album as a whole does not yearn for regular listening by me--though the song "Second Life Syndrome" is among my favorites of all-time.
Report this review (#338003)
Posted Monday, November 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Excellent Prog Metal with a Little Too Much Black Eyeliner

I don't know why it took me so long to review Riverside's SECOND LIFE SYNDROME. It was one of the first albums recommended to me as a newbie at Prog Archives, and I've enjoyed it quite a bit. My overall impression is that this is progressive goth metal, allied not with Dream Theater, chops, and battle cries, but instead Anathema, gloom, and a little too much teenage bad goth poetry. The last item is what keeps this excellent music from reaching masterpiece level for me. Perhaps it is the translation from Polish to English that causes the over-the-top lyrics, but the images are really the same across cultures.

The opener "After" is an ethereal, slow burner that starts with some ridiculous spoken word slash-my-wrists silliness from vocalist Mariusz Duda, but then the music comes. Glorious low male harmonies over tribal drums are basically likely giving a junkie his fix for me. Delicious. I realize that this sound is just as much a teen goth trapping as the lyrics that make me laugh, but I love it. And while we never quite reach this mesmerizing place again, there is a darkness that surrounds the music through out the album. And with the exception of a few over-reaching moments vocally by Duda, and a few of the lyrics, I believe it all works.

The title song begins with very obvious Pink Floyd trappings but fairly quickly picks up momentum. The fact that the music is clearly more on-top-of the beat than Floyd adds a freshness, an urgency to the melancholy of what could have been a rip-off but instead is a very valid modernization of the mood. The added bonus of the metallic guitars and odd-time riffing also help Riverside make the sound their own. Interestingly, all the teen goth angst works quite well for the ode to infidelity, "Artificial Smile," though there is one painfully bad lyric choice. The ballad-y songs aren't quite as powerful, though they accomplish their intent. The more instrumentally intense songs like "Reality Dream III," "Dance With the Shadows," and "Volte-Face," are probably the most rewarding. The album ends with "Before" which is the best of the slow songs on the album.

There is a distinctive 80's edge to this that is not necessarily from the realm of metal, though the choice of distortion on the guitars is a little dated. It's more in the reverb, and a bit of slap-back delay that points back to rainy-night songs of my youth. And yet the riffs are more modern, so we get a mixture of time frames that gives Riverside their own unique identity. Duda's dark harmonies are also fairly singular, and certainly his voice is the centerpiece for the entire band. His harsh vocals sometimes work and sometimes they don't, but his clean vocals are among the better in metal. His sense of the melodramatic also means that we get plenty of dynamics, with some great dramatic crashes where the band comes in like a brigade of tanks, and open passages that feel like standing on the edges of the light at a campfire in winter.

More than anything, I get the sense that this band is making music, not playing just to play. They have something they're trying to say, pictures they're trying to paint, messages they're trying to communicate. And they succeed. It may have shades of adolescent drama rather than subtlety at times, but hey it's metal. 4/5 stars.

Report this review (#358655)
Posted Monday, December 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars After the masterpiece "Anno Domini High Definition", I decided to make further inroads into the universe of Riverside and I went to hear what is considered his masterpiece, "Second Life Syndrome. " And to my surprise, this album is not as good as I thought.

I'm crazy? I´m not.was a shock see as this album is so overrated, although for me it does not arrive at the feet of "ADHD. " I will not say he is nice in some ways, the opening "After" beginning of an annoying way but then evolved greatly, and "Volte-face" and the title-track are exceptional, but I can not deny how decepcionate it was for me in most respects.

3 stars.Although I have not heard "Out of myself" and "Rapid eye movement", have a sneaking premonition that this trilogy is not as good as the next phase of the band.

Report this review (#386826)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
Retired Admin
5 stars Conceiving greatness.

Riverside is one of the new progressive metal acts of this (well technically last) decade. However, one thing really separated Riverside from the rest: they're damn good. Unlike the countless number of new progressive metal acts that have flooded the scene, most of which are just copies (or slight variants) of Dream Theater, Riverside really exemplifies the spirit of creativity and inventiveness in the genre. The band is exquisitely unique and enjoyable, combining softer heavy prog with a deliberate and ambient avant metal. From all this, we get a tasty blend of a new brand of progressive metal, Riverside style.

The album starts with After, a haunting vocal piece, before breaking into an ambient and mellow 'ethno-fusion' track with some cool percussive effects and some great textures to go along. Overall the track acts as a spectacular transition to a slowly crescendoing album full of tricks and tasty treats.

Volte-Face fades in from After and slowly crescendos into a rocking and experimental groove fit for kings. The song is the first taste of Riverside's incredible ability to dish out intensely creative music. The song has no trouble modulating between feels and utilizing Hammond textures and supreme riffs and instrumental sections. The band obviously has intense compositional skill, and they are able to utilize it in fantastic ways. Overall, the track poses the first taste to Riverside's great ability on this fantastic album.

Conceiving You is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Blasting open with a near tear- jerkingly beautiful piano melody, the song shows Riverside's interpretation of Progressive Metal's compassionate and melodic side. Overall, the track is easily one of the best on the album and shows how Riverside can effortlessly take music and meld into the beautiful form it deserves ' a skill not many possess.

Second Life Syndrome is the monster 15 minute track of the album (every album needs one!). The song has a long buildup wait, which is highly paid back by the catchy bass line and atmospheric and highly infectious guitar playing. The song slowly builds into a rocking and highly amazing epic of, well, epic proportions. The song is very traditional to the great Riverside sound, with much slower tempos than much of Prog Metal and an overall very atmospheric and reliant more on sudden accents for excitement than crazy instrumental sections. Overall, the title track is another fantastic track, with high points at the atmospheric instrumental sections, some damn infectious bass lines, and just an overall sense of intense inventiveness. The melodic structure of Duda's voice is very unconventional and refreshing. This song is just great!

Artificial Smile is the first real 'rocking' song on the album. Starting right off with a great riff and breaking into a still great rocking and atmospheric verse and easily modulating in and out of that feel. We hear a strong influence of harder metal influences like Opeth in this song especially. Overall, this song is yet another great track of the album, exemplifying all the great qualities of Riverside's music.

I Turned You Down is one of the more atmospheric and ambient of the album's track. It has a much greater emphasis on vocal melody than instrumental value. It has a slower, more deliberate and moving feel to it than the others. Overall a great track also.

Reality Dream III is the final in a trilogy of Reality Dream instrumentals, and it does not disappoint. It has a slow crescendo into a rushing and amazing dynamic that is very atypical of the album's music feel but also has strong ties with the 'ethno-rock/metal' feel of their music. Overall, the track provides one of the most musically refreshing rides that I've experienced in a while. The band really goes all out on this one. Each member has his say in where he plays, when he plays, how he plays, just to make the absolute perfect track.

Dance with the Shadow is just a fantastic track. Opening with an ominous and atmospheric melodic vocal section, the song slowly builds into a rocking and greatly dynamic track, mixing great metal riffs and slower more deliberate and hard progish riffs and ethno rhythms. The song is really the first to show the band's true connection to the genre with a great and crazy instrumental section with a cool synth solo that just drops right back into the slower and melodic beauty of Doma's voice and bass playing. Overall, it is the next epic and a fantastic show of the band's skill in every aspect.

Before, the ending, ends the album on a similar to note to what it began, a more atmospheric and ethno sounding track. It closes the concept of a man who can't stand his own self and refuses to accept reality (at least my perception, I haven't looked into the lyrics very much). The song is a fantastic 'summary' of what you have just experienced, mixing some of the heavier aspects of the song with more of the slower and deliberate and melodic feels of the album in a marvelous amalgam of music. Overall, the track ends the album fantastically, leaving you excellently satisfied with life.

ALBUM OVERALL: It's easy to see why this album is considered one of the best of the progressive metal genres, even though the band and the album aren't even 10 years old (well the band is 10, but the album is merely 6). To see such a 'youngling' excel amongst 25 year vets like Dream Theater and 20 year runner ups like Pain of Salvation is extremely impressive. The album success is mainly due to its great new style ' nothing that the average prog metal head has ever heard of. The band fuses a delicious blend of ethnic metal and progressive rock to make an infectious brand of music ' Riverside style. Overall, the album is nearly perfect, except some of the atmospheric stuff could have been forsaken. But, other than that, the album has not a single flaw and provides one of the most exciting and refreshing musical rides the genre has heard in a long while. 5- stars.

Report this review (#392351)
Posted Tuesday, February 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars A new find for me, Riverside, and this band have produced four CD's so far, all of which I possess and all will be reviewed by me in the next few weeks. I start with "Second Life Syndrome" - not because it is chronologically the first, but because, of the first impressions I got on listening this winter, this is the most impressive. The CD starts with a short track with rythmic chanting - and it doesn't give you a clue as to the direction the CD will eventually take. But the first track has the first haunting guitar motif...and thats what hooked me. The guitar playing is superbly atmospheric/hackettesque in a prog metal renditioning and the guitar is the primary solo instrument for picking out some absolutely devine runs. The title track is the longest on the CD and possibly the second best track - because it is eclipsed by the stunning "Dance with the Shadow". I thought that this band is producing what Rush should have produced after "Moving Pictures" instead of producing eighties AOR/synth pop! Anyway, this CD has some very tidy prog/metal riffs and is a very consistent CD as there are no weak tracks at all. I especially love the guitar at the start of "Dance with the Shadow" - that alone would make this a four star CD - However, given the brillaince of at least three of the tracks this is definately a FIVE star effort. If you are thinking of buying Riverside - get this one first.
Report this review (#419114)
Posted Monday, March 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Finally after 4 years of browsing this excellent site, which made me discover so many great bands and albums.. i decided to register myself! And I have to start my firfst review by my best discovery so far in 4 years : riverside ! Where Pink Floyd goes Prog metal, where heavy metal riffs meets atmospherical soundscapes. Mariusz ' bass lines are so omnipresent on this album!. Conceiving you is beautiful and so heart gripping. But second life syndrome and reality dream III remain my favorite tracks. I am not original, first review and and 5 star one ! Which they would come back in Montreal during their next tour promoting their fifth album ! So happy to be one of the guys from now on Cheers!!
Report this review (#484531)
Posted Sunday, July 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars i learned Riverside thanks to your site..They aren't the biggest name in the market so when i saw you guys rate this album with 5 stars over and over again i said what the hell?Why i haven't listened to it yet?So the time passed and i heard right before 10 minutes..So here are my thoughts..It is NOT a masterpiece..This album lacks that little things that mak an album masterpiece..Don't get me wrong..I liked it a lot,but for me a masterpiece HAS to shock me..and this album doesn't manage it.It impressed me!However the difference between them is huge..I don't know why but i waited that SLS was very technical but all of a sudden it's not..i mean it has these moments but it offers to us feeling passion and more mellow parts..But that's a good thing..This is what i want from a good album..I also noticed some Anathema DT PT and a bit of Pink Floyd sounds..It is a solid album that enjoy the listener with their musicianship but it does NOT have the special elements such as Images,TPE or Operation Mindcrime have..Solid 3 stars..
Report this review (#561287)
Posted Wednesday, November 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4/5

This is probably the first Riverside album I heard all the way through. I do know that the very first song I ever heard by them came from this album, and quite by accident. I think we all pile up those free cds that come with each issue of Prog Mag, and (confession time) I pretty much never get around to playing them. This time though the cd was a "history of prog" compilation, so I gave it a shot.

Insert cd...[stuff plays] Yeah this old stuff is good...what about this new prog? [listens] Meh; okay; meh; meh; meh...["Conceiving You"] Oh wow who the hell are these guys? [jawdrop] And who the [%*!#] is that singer???

I sure found out, because my immediate and subsequent digging around on Youtube for Riverside inevitably turned up Lunatic Soul, and that was the music...but anyway, that's a different set of reviews. As it was (and I discovered them late: they were a year away from releasing their fifth album) I spent the next six months listening to almost nothing else but the Riverside and Lunatic Soul back catalogues.

Second Life Syndrome is the album where Riverside became complete, as it were, and its release must have quelled the apprehension of many fans eagerly awaiting the follow-up to Out of Myself: were these guys really going to be able to fulfill the enormous promise of that first album?

Well...not only did they fulfill that promise, they utterly annihilated any doubts about their capabilities. The unmistakable "Riverside" sound had coalesced: lush and complex, sweeping and powerful, delicate and bone-crushing. Michał Łapaj settled in as the new keyboard player, bringing a depth and richness to the soundscape that wasn't quite there on the first album. All the performances are strong and nuanced, but on this album Piotr Grudziński really comes into his own -- he dominates Second Life Syndrome like he has on no other album since, a virtual Niagara of massively inspired, heartbreakingly beautiful guitar themes and riffs on track after track.

And what tracks they are: some of the most enduring favourites come from this album, ranging from the poignant delicacy of "Conceiving You", through to head-pounding prog metal ("Volte Face"), to the album's massive coiling final track ("Before"). Overall the album feels heavier and more intense than Out of Myself; Duda lets loose with much more in the way of growls and screams -- it was probably this album that gave the band their "progressive metal" descriptor. There are no real ballads here, but "Conceiving You" and "I Turned You Down" serve as the more sedate tracks on the album. Still, there is something for everyone.

And then...Heavenland... If there is a song that says "Riverside" to me, the one song that completely defines their essence, it is the album's monstrous title track. This is a piece of music that has ascended to that rarefied paradise reserved for those very special, very few, shut-the-hell-up-while-this-is-playing songs. "Second Life Syndrome", with its intricate three-part structure, its gorgeously-developed themes and inspired writing and performances by all involved, is so completely mind-blowing, so immersive that it renders time meaningless: in mere seconds fifteen minutes has gone by. The band has produced some magnificent epics since, and at least one has edged close to the pure transcendent glory that is "Second Life Syndrome"...but so far, this song remains unmatched in the Riverside catalogue.

Taken together the songs are somewhat variable in quality, which gives the album a slightly inconsistent feel. "Artificial Smile", "I Turned You Down", and "Dance with the Shadows" are not quite as strong as other tracks, and the opener "After" seems a bit self-indulgent. However, even if they are all not of equivalent quality the differences are slight: there are no really weak tracks on this album. This manages to put Second Life Syndrome -- for me, anyway -- close to the top of the Riverside album heap. It surely was a hell of an album to hear first; and it has been surpassed by only one other.

This is the second album in the threesome that make up the Reality Dream Trilogy; the Rule of Three (as it were) continues in the album name and the number of tracks (see my review for Out of Myself for more on this). The overarching lyric motif of the Trilogy involves themes of exploring and negotiating the psychology of self-identity; in Second Life Syndrome the focus is on the need to break away from old habits and desires, and a yearning for new. Mariusz Duda can be a fine lyricist, and especially so given that he writes in English. The lyrics work well enough on this album, but he's a couple of albums away yet from what may be his best songs for Riverside. His solo project is where he truly shines as a wordsmith, but...a different set of reviews.

If I was asked to recommend a Riverside starter-album to someone, this is the one I would choose. It is not my favourite, but if we were to try and disentangle personal preference from objective analysis (yeah, go ahead, laugh...) I would be willing to argue that it might be their best. I think it exemplifies the soul and spirit of the band even if it does not represent their current musical direction. Beautifully lush and immersive, heavy and melodic, it is the signature album for the band's unique sound. And really...that title track....

Report this review (#603598)
Posted Thursday, January 5, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars Riverside create an emotionally charged masterpiece of colossal power.

The second Riverside album features some of the most enduring material of the band and the heaviest work until the masterpiece "Anno Domine High Definition". Mariusz Duda is always excellent on lead vocals and also plays bass. The guitar work of Piotr Grudzinski is incredible on this album. Michal Lapaj is simply astonishing on keyboards and Piotr Kozieradzki is wonderful on drums. Every track on this album is superb, and some tracks are indispensable. 'After' begins with whispers that are rather chilling and then a very slow ambient Porcupine tree style sound takes over.

'Volte Face' has a driving heavy rhythm and wonderful guitar notes ringing out over the loud percussion and shimmering Hammond. Then that awesome riff with odd time sig crunches and it is a prog metal sanctuary. The spacey vocals add to the atmospherics until we get to the first verse. The melody is pleasant in the quieter sections and it builds to the aggressive passage "I'm not afraid", and the Hammond quivers over the crashing guitar chords. Masterpiece song without a doubt.

The piano solo that begins 'Conceiving You' is appropriate as Duda really delivers a powerhouse vocal, with emotion and vitality, "been conceiving you for too long, if only I could change all things around." The lead break cries and soars as the soundscape builds to a crescendo. The wall of sound that Riverside are able to create is astounding, and really touches the emotions powerfully.

The first epic is 'Second Life Syndrome' a 15 minute eargasm of intricate virtuoso musicianship and towering vocals. An instant classic, the song boasts one of the best structures of the band's repertoire. It begins with a drone and Pink Floyd style guitar riff and then it gets heavier building in intensity, with Hammond blazing and a divine bassline locks in. The vocals of Duda are crystalline and pleasant; "From day to day, From hand to mouth, We're turning around, Vicious ritual, Getting used to it all, Falling down again, We're waiting for, The decrees of providence." The melody is ultra-infectious and the heavy guitars augment the dark overtones. Soon the lead break takes over and it is superbly executed by Grudzinski. There is no mistaking the massive sound on the keyboards, violently hammered by Lapaj. The song settles into bassline and echoing keyboards, changing feel and allowing the music to breathe. Duda is gentler on part two; "I just want to feel your sigh on my neck, Want to feel your breath, Feel your need to stay, You don't know my name, Don't know my face, Only thoughts I share in my secret place, Secret exhibition, Cure for loneliness, I've ground to a halt, There's no turning back, You know there are things I just can't forget, You've helped me so much, To learn to be detached." The second lead break is spacious and soars with sustained held high pitched notes. Part three, Vicious Ritual, is an instrumental to finish this magnificent track. The music becomes spacey and whispers are heard with footsteps effects. The result is a creepy but compelling sound. As the bass joins in cadence with the whispers, guitars grind out a crushing distorted chord structure. A King Crimson polyphonic rhythm dominates, and some more vocal intonations "you will never suffer." The last lead break is the final drawcard and caps off an absolutely brilliant track.

'Artificial Smile' follows with a fast heavy tempo and some sensuous synths over a melodic hook. The vocals are still clear though much faster, and he occasionally uses a raspy tone to emphasise the anger in the words; "I hate you cos they love you, I'm so happy when they left you, this is my life! Sell me your mind!" This may be one of the heaviest Riverside songs but has still the strong organic symphonic nuances and equable lead guitar.

'I Turned You Down' drips with an endearing bassline and peaceful guitar violining. The spacey textures are the sort of music that would permeate the next album. Very ambient verses follow; "I turned you down so hastily, and it's tearing me apart, in my heart of hearts I'm screaming, in my heart of hearts I cry and it's cold, you're so cold." The lead guitar swells are beautiful over the synths. A heavier riff threatens to break through before a lead break overwhelms the serenity, and it is a darker atmosphere that supervenes.

Following this is 'Reality Dream III' with nice reverberated harmonics in the intro until a bass rhythm fades up. The tempo locks in and becomes an unusual time sig. The instrumental makes a pleasant break and one can just become immersed in the music. There is a heavy metal riff that pounds and chugs along and then a heavy handed piano is heard. The guitars join this new time change and then the Hammond returns like an old friend.

'Dance With the Shadow' is the second epic of the album starting with a low drone and gentle vocals. The Gilmour-esque guitar is prevalent and then an extremely heavy guitar changes it and it is more like Dream Theater with Petrucci riffs. The synthesis of psych space prog and metal is a key feature. The middle section settles into a calmer tunnel I'm standing on the edge about to fall, in the middle of the point o no return, trying to forget those days I failed to act, I can almost see the light, feel its warmth, and as the moment I was waiting or so long, I carry all before me now the die is cast, with open arms I'm standing out against my past." At 10 minutes in the sound builds up and a cataclysmic explosion of Hammond and metal dramatically clash and the riffs intensify till it ends. Incredible breathtaking music.

The final track 'Before' is a slow calm after the storm. It builds to a forceful flurry of riffs and then it is all over, and you long to play the whole album again.

The only conclusion that can be drawn after being treated to this extraordinary music is that this is a masterpiece from Riverside. Everything works perfectly to create some absolutely incredible music; the vocals, bass, guitars, keys and drums are an amalgamation that showcases all that is great about prog rock. Strong melodies, intricate complex time sigs, compelling lyrics and amazing musicianship. This, along with "Anno Domine High Definition", is one album that towers over all the rest.

Report this review (#604561)
Posted Saturday, January 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars I seem to be in the rare position of not actually liking Riverside's second album as much as their first. I don't know what it is - certainly, aside from a slightly heavier emphasis on the metal side of their sound, most of the ingredients of the first album are here - but on balance I think it's down to the album sounding a bit more cold and clinical in its execution than the previous album was. It's enough to make me worry that Riverside may go down the same path as so many other prog metal albums whose works are widely celebrated in the community but leave me cold - an over-emphasis on technicality without a corresponding increase in the band's command of emotion and atmosphere (or, as in so any cases, a positive decrease in that).
Report this review (#684832)
Posted Sunday, March 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I received a recommendation from a "Rate Your Music" user to check out Riverside - I owe him (or her?) a pint or four!

This is a fantastic production of well arranged music featuring musicianship of the highest order. You could be 'put off' by the length of some of the tracks on the album - but don't be. All the tracks work very well, and if you like the guitar style and arrangements of early Marillion, then you will absolutely adore Riverside, in fact the production is so powerful that it could even be considered to be superior to those early Marillion releases.

Riverside are from Poland, and it cannot have been easy for them marketing their music from a country which would not appear to have the rock music history or industry infrastructure of nations such as the UK or USA.

Hats off to Riverside, they are a fantastic rock band.

Report this review (#1008195)
Posted Monday, July 29, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars (10/10)

Whilst "Out of Myself" will always take the special place in my own heart it is Riverside's follow up album, "Second Life Syndrome", that is generally regarded as their defining masterpiece, and I can easily see why. Rather than crumbling under the pressure of the daunting task of following one of the great masterpieces of modern prog, Riverside managed to use it as a springboard and carried the momentum into an expanded new sound. A variety of new approaches were introduced without compromising the emotional core of the band, and it marked a laudable trend in Riverside's discography (that continues to this day) of always bringing something new to the table.

By the second song it is very clear that the metallic intensity in the band's sound has experienced a step change in power, with Piotr Grudzinski's guitar often roaring into life as well as soaring high like on the previous album. It pairs up well with the more organ inflected keyboards that new guy Micheal Lapaj brings to the band. Lapaj also has some pretty impressive soloing abilities up his sleeve that sounds great in all the keyboard voices he's using, and overall he does a good job of picking up where the last guy (Jacek Melnicki) left off. A good example of this new sound would be "Reality Dream III", in which the band really flex their muscles and take you on a fantastical journey within the space of relatively little time.

Of course, it is really Mariusz Duda who steals the show on this album. Firstly, his vocals are more confident and prominent - and he already started out brilliant. He delivers a genuine display of many emotions with a great clarity and honesty, from the the wistful melancholy of "Conceiving You" to the rousing defiance at the end of "Volte-Face", to the screamed fury in "Artificial Smile". Secondly, Duda's bass (especially in conjunction with Piotr Kozieradzki's precise and catchy drumming) is great at driving a hypnotising stream of developing rhythms and themes. If anything he's become more confident in taking the lead, and his distinctive bass lines really set Riverside apart from many contemporaries in their field.

Throughout the songs (especially in the longer songs like "Dance With The Shadow" and the epic and stunning title track) everything is constantly developing. There's always something new added to the developing sound, and interesting details spread throughout this process. It allows your ears to pick up on new things each time you listen. As you could be drawn to so many things you can just lose yourself in the mix. Waves of different instruments wash over you, and this is one of the few albums that allows me to truly switch off the analytic part of my brain and just immerse myself in the music. It's over an hour, but seems to fly by as I get completely lost as the music flows through me. I have a very easily wandering mind so this is a rare achievement indeed.

Compared with "Out Of Myself", "Second Life Syndrome" is less of a spacey continuous journey and more of a mutli-part exploration of different moods. With brighter sounds, and a less atmospheric more metallic style, Riverside tend towards more passages of full band charge, and larger climaxes, raising the stakes compared with last time. Lyrically, Duda is still in similar territory to the first album: dark and emotive, always seeming to know just which bit of your heart and mind to strike at. The mixture of melody, rhythm and emotion that make Riverside what they are is as strong as ever. "Second Life Syndrome" is an absolute winner, do not miss out on it!

Report this review (#1025203)
Posted Thursday, August 29, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Second Life Syndrome is the logical progression in sound and style from their wonderful debut. The Pink Floyd-like atmosphere is still widely present, but one may sense the band is going in a slightly heavier, more metal direction, as much of the music this time around is more riff-based. Much of the ambient sound of the previous has been replaced, or at least overlaid by the heavy riff-based music that is so prevalent in Progressive Metal. Regardless, the same core Riverside sound is present, along with the same compositional skills and complexity that made the first album so remarkable.

Like the debut, there are nine songs, most of which can be categorized in the same way. You have your heavier songs in 'Artificial Smile' and the Dream Theater influenced instrumental 'Reality Dream III.'

'Conceiving You,' 'I Turned You Down,' and 'Before' are the more down-tempo, atmospheric songs, all of which have a great melodic touch.

The real treats though, are the lengthier 'Volte-Face,' 'Dance With the Shadow,' and the epic title track, all of which have very diverse, but easily digestible song structures. The title track especially being easily divided into three parts, the first being a blend of melodic guitar bits with heavy bass lines and complex guitar riffs. The second has that down-tempo Pink Floyd sound that often invades their sound, and the final part is a frenzy of instrumental intensity that rounds off what is perhaps the band's best song, and is certainty the perfect summation of what the band achieves musically.

Again, the production and mixing are pristine on the album, with bass having a deep, warm tone, and guitar having that soulful, crying tone.

Overall, Riverside made a slight improvement with this album by going in a slightly heavier direction, which, when combined with their attention to deep atmosphere and melody makes this one of the most diverse and interesting albums of Progressive Metal.


Report this review (#1026198)
Posted Friday, August 30, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars The follow-up to their very successful debut, Second Life Syndrome, starts on a quiet note with the opener "After". Picks up a notch with Volte-Face before we get to the ballad-like "Conceiving You".

The lengthy title track is followed by the rockier "Artificial Smile" before we get to the beautiful "I Turned You Down". Another installment of the instrumental "Reality Dream" piece is found here.

As progressive as their first offering and as enjoyable. Just don't push that many buttons for me I'm afraid, but still a very fine collection of Progressive Goodness. Hoping for bigger things for the band.

Rate this similar to their debut. 4 Stars.

Report this review (#1092235)
Posted Thursday, December 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
The Crow
5 stars After the splendid Out of Myself, Riverside achieved to do even better witch Second Life Syndrome!

Not just the production is better, also the playing of all the members of the band improved since their debut, raising the level of complexity and deep to previous unknown limits for this band. The general style of the album is a bit less jazzy than in the band's first release. So, if you are a diehard fan of Out of Myself, maybe you'll miss the most trip-hop atmospheric sections.

But the band gained tons of skills in songwriting, achieving a collection of songs which is far superior. I honestly think that the band's peak is here. In Anno Domini High Definition they almost achieved the great quality of Second Life Syndrome, but it's a step under nevertheless. Let's discover what made this record so good!

The album starts with After, a very dramatic and appropriate intro with splendid vocals and the rest of the band sounding just perfect. This song is like an introduction of what Mariusz Duda would make in its parallel project Lunatic Soul, ethnic influences included. Then Volte-Face comes like a punch in your face with its strong riffs, passionate singing and oriental melodies. Stronger, very stronger than Out of Myself.

But then Conceiving You brings back this most intimate side of the band, much in the style of In Two Minds of the previous release. The lyrics are also perfect, making a milestone in the band's career, just like the title track... An authentic progressive tour de force in three acts with perfect songwriting, marvelous lyrics and an epic guitar solo towards the end. Outstanding!

And the guys of Riverside wanted not to bring the party down, so after Second Life Syndrome they included Artificial Smile, another great and rocky song, very prog and perfect to be played live. But if you think that the thigs could not be better, then listen to I Turned You Down... The best song of the album and one of the best of the band's whole career. I can't even describe what this song means to me... And my wife. I just LOVE it.

Reality Dream III is a superb instrumental track with protagonism for Lapaj and the solos of the very missed Grudzinski. Better than the Reality Dreams of Out of Myself in my opinion. And what's to say about Dance with the Shadows? It starts in a very soft way, with a very catchy vocal melody from Duda, and it soon evolves to a very dynamic and complete progressive metal song, with the typical Riverside's more atmospheric and dramatic sections in the middle. The lyrics talk about loss and craziness, introducing the main theme of the next album Rapid Eye Movement. Great riff after the minute 9!

And Before ends the album in the same way that OK did in Out of Myself... Another precious lyric from Duda for a track with trip hop influences.

Summary: Second Life Syndrome is not perfect, but every song included is just great. If you like melancholic crossover prog with strong lyrics, great playing, a very personal approach to instrumental sections and a unique voice this is the best place to start. This is still in my opinion the Riverside's best album to date.

An outstanding masterpiece and one of the best progressive rock albums from the last decade.

Best Tracks: all of them.

My Rating: *****

This review is dedicated to the great and very missed guitarist Piotr Grudzinski. Rest in peace wherever you are, brother!

Report this review (#1743947)
Posted Sunday, July 16, 2017 | Review Permalink

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