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Riverside - Second Life Syndrome CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.26 | 1622 ratings

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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 exposť, 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
tszirmay | 4/5 |


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