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Riverside - Out of Myself CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.18 | 1228 ratings

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4 stars Part one of Riverside's 'Reality Dream' trilogy came out of nowhere. By now, the band probably doesn't need an introduction, because fans of progressive music recognise them almost as much as Dream Theater these days, but even with their debut, they earnt rave reviews from almost everyone.

And for a good reason. Each member of the band is top-notch, and their skill in composition is consistently fluid and dynamic. They may not play the most complex brand of progressive rock, but their styles meld together to form a unique brand of music all the same. If you've read other reviews, you've seen all their main influences cited, so I'm just reiterating: this is the perfect combination of Pink Floyd, Marillion, Anathema, Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater and plenty of others.

'Out of Myself' highlights Riverside's atmospheric abilities, but it also showcases some more aggressive elements, which they'd explore later in their opus magnus 'Second Life Syndrome.' This means each song is varied, the album doesn't get repetitive, and its length is just right for what they wanted to achieve. Best of all, they maintain a high quality throughout - every track except the last is excellent in its own way:

The Same River (9.9 out of 10) - This twelve-minute intro sets the mood for Riverside's trilogy; ambient and introspective at times, fast and dynamic at others, and always characteristically atmospheric. After a slow build-up of ethereal keyboards and chanting, the song progresses towards guitar riffs and solos, only to change again halfway through the song, bringing Mariusz's vocals in at about the seven-minute mark. And - let's get this out of the way now - his singing style is the best I've heard on the progressive rock scene. To showcase his talent, the song ends brilliantly with the lines:

I am your fear, I am your hope I am your grief, I am your joy I am your deed, I am your word I am your hate, I am your love

The Same River earns a 9.9 out of 10 for being one of my top three songs of all time. This is the sort of track you can listen to over and over (and over) again, and it still takes you to different places in your mind. Beyond an excellent start to the album.

Out of Myself (8 out of 10) - Following that, Riverside explores the next side of their abilities in this both furious and catchy tune. The title track launches off with a clean electric riff that drives the song, fluctuating in the background as Mariusz alternates between whispering Voices in my head, singing soaring melodies and almost screaming in the bridge. Once again everyone plays in a patterned style, with all the instruments working in beautiful cohesion. A solid track.

I Believe (8.5 out of 10) - This sweet acoustic ballad starts off on a strange note, with a cacophony of voices from a formal party in the background. This sets the scene surprisingly well for a melancholic, peaceful song. Once again, the outstanding vocals are the song's focus, but the sound effects from keyboard player Michal Lapaj also play an important, yet subtle, role. I Believe is a great indication of Riverside's lighter style, setting a serene mood that stays with you long after you've listened to it.

Reality Dream Part I (8 out of 10) - Following a short ambient introduction, the first of four Reality Dream instrumentals (there are two more on the albums to come) fires off with another catchy riff from Piotr Grudzinski, who has until this point restrained his role in the album. Here, the hard electric guitar dominates the song, intermeshed with a soaring keyboard melody that sometimes replicates the main riff and sometimes goes off in its own direction. Towards the end, Mariusz returns for some tribal chanting and while Piotr launches into a melodic solo. This track turns out to be yet another example of how well each band member fits into the song, forming patterns in odd time signiatures that create a very unique feel.

Loose Heart (9 out of 10) - Settling down after the firestorm of the last track, Loose Heart starts off as a keyboard-driven ballad, but soon works its way into a heavy finish. At the end, Mariusz shouts, Raise me up, raise me up don't let me fall! to flawless effect. The focus here is on the desperate and ominous mood, which (need I say it again?) the perfect interplay of instruments pulls off effortlessly.

Reality Dream Part II (8 out of 10) - Kicking off with a short drumming solo from Piotr Kozieradzki, the second Reality Dream phase elevates into another solid instrumental. This one is more laid-back than the first, giving off the actual impression of a strange dream. Part II is more inviting than Part I; it feels warmer and more relaxed, even though it's quite similar. An upbeat ending leads into...

In Two Minds (8.5 out of 10) - The album's second ballad. On the downside, this one sounds a little too similiar to I Believe, though in its defense, both songs are so good that it hardly matters. Another melancholic intro; this one starts with Mariusz's whispered vocals, and builds into a soaring climax where he hits notes too high to sing along to. In Two Minds is peaceful, atmospheric, beautiful, everything you'll come to expect from the light half of Riverside.

The Curtain Falls (8.5 out of 10) - Apart from The Same River, this is probably the album's most progressive song. Beginning with a relaxed keyboard and bass segment, it suddenly changes a couple of minutes in, to an instrumental full of chanting and unusual playing from each band member. Over the remaining six minutes, this spontaneous segment becomes faster, climaxing into a frantic electric guitar riff and settling down once again into a calm ending. Each transition is very fluid. It took a while before I began to really appreciate this song, but sure enough, this is another of the album's many gems.

OK (6 out of 10) - Ending the album with a trip-hop influenced track was a strange decision, and perhaps not the best one either. The song sounds strangely empty. Maybe it's just not my style, though other reviewers have agreed this is the low point of 'Out of Myself.' All in all, the song is still good (or just okay, to use a terrible pun) but it doesn't really compare to their other efforts. There's a song on their EP 'Voices In My Head' called Stuck Between, which followed the same pattern as this one, but they executed it far better. So, the album ends on a somewhat disappointing note, but the rest of it is good enough to earn at least a four-star rating.

This is one of the best debuts I've ever heard from a band. Excellent production, masterful cohesion of instruments, outstanding all around. If you haven't already, pick this album up. It suits just about everyone, and it never takes long to get into Riverside. 'Out of Myself' is worth the buy for the opening track alone, and seven more wonderful tracks seal the package. Highly recommended.

Receuvium | 4/5 |


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