RIVERSIDE has made rather a stir in the Prog scene since “Out Of Myself” was released in 2004 and it’s not surprising. If the guys carry on in the same vein in which they started and keep writing such great melodic and progressive tunes, then they’re bound to become the next PORCUPINE TREE.
The music on “Out Of Myself” is quite typically Prog in a few ways – sometimes unpredictable, in the way that it can flick through totally different moods and styles in the same song, odd time signatures are aplenty, the songs range from four minutes long to twelve and one of which is split into two and subsequently named “I” and “II”. But there are certain things about the way this band pulls this off which separates them from being “just another Prog band”. Given time the unpredictability of the contrasting passages seems to melt away as irregularity turns to pattern, the time signatures feel so natural they are barely noticeable, the song lengths add variety and the album is conceptual which leads to the songs being inherently and beautifully linked to one another.
So anyway, this is also RIVERSIDE’s first release, making the sheer brilliance and professionalism of songwriting even more astounding. Instrumentally, I’ll start off with the drumming – nothing truly amazing or technical but for this type of music that’s not a problem and Mittloff handles the irregular time keeping more than adequately, providing solid rhythm. The guitar work, undertaken by Grudzien is frankly superb. At times mellow, but still very prominent, sometimes a bit more metal or rocky, other times Prog and with tinges of smooth blues thrown in for good measure; but whatever he comes up with it seems effortlessly compelling and wholly natural and he’s certainly got a very distinctive style. The solos are fantastic, some of the most memorable I’ve heard, all backed up by Jacek’s wonderful, ambient keyboard playing. The bass stands out less than the guitar in the mix, but not as much as many records and is in fact handled by Mariusz, who is also the singer and when you concentrate and want to hear it there is some brilliant playing. And the vocals? Also amazing – melancholy, but so emotional, with the very slightest of Polish accents that just creates a slightly more exotic sound, which for me is so much more interesting than a typical English or American one.
Some of the songs are heavier than might be implied through the opening track “The Same River”, like “Reality Dream” I and II, but this is done in quite a manner not unlike PORCUPINE TREE, as hinted at earlier or perhaps even DREAM THEATER. Others, like “The Curtain Falls” considering the keyboard sound, are softer and easier to take in, with very moving guitar work too. Altogether the general atmosphere created in the songs is actually probably quite close to what most Doom bands try to create. I say “try” because in my opinion, a lot of them don’t even come close, instead ending up with an album comprising of only a handful of boring riffs and depressing vocals. I don’t mean that RIVERSIDE are a Doom Metal band and are in fact nowhere near the style; but this is the kind of atmosphere that I expected when I first listened to KATATONIA and ANATHEMA. Rather they have conceived an exceptionally original sound in this album, encompassing many different feels in one album, the mellow side showcasing some of the most exquisite melodies I’ve ever heard.
I have only one criticism, which on the part of the band is by no means an insult. It is the same exasperation I have with the bands I am especially fond of. When a band or album is as special as this there is no replacement for it and because it’s so unique you know you’ll never find another quite like it! But I think that means I can safely say this really is one of the most special albums of recent years and any fan of Prog Rock, old or new, owes it to themselves to invest in this album and indeed any other RIVERSIDE material they can get their hands on! (Online April 23, 2006)