Riverside are quite often considered a progressive metal band, but they’ve always been much more varied and nuanced than that. Certainly, they are capable of being heavy but that’s not the same thing. Here on this re-release of their first album, originally released in 2003, it is evident that they were a band of some talent.
Rather than just metallic, you can hear from the start a certain psychedelic air, not least an influence of Pink Floyd. There are reminders of other bands in the sound too, including King Crimson, Porcupine Tree, Opeth and even a touch of Pain of Salvation. There are also moments of a neo-progressive air too.
The music turns out to be quite thoughtful, sensitive and not a little bleak. There’s not much of cheer on display, but the lyrics never become maudlin or depressing. Ambient style passages can give way to something more powerful and soaring. They’re not afraid to wig-out at times either. There are moments in the opener, The Same River, when things become a little Ozric Tentacles-like. There’s plenty of marked changes too which provides lots of colour and contrast. Elsewhere the music takes another feeling altogether. I Believe is more of a ballad with acoustic guitars and a much more mellow approach. There are a couple of purely instrumental tracks as well in Reality Dream and Reality II. They are well done too, showing that you can be impressive musically without being overbearing or wearisome.
This was a very impressive debut from the band, with the musicians giving assured and vibrant performances and they’ve followed that up since with some exceptional releases. Just once in a while the tempos can become a little plodding, something that space rock can fall into. In many ways what the band did on this release provided a template to what they would create on later albums. Powerful and often beautiful, the album is also a deeply melancholic one but one that avoids falling into a misery. This is a very good listen.
This release has been remastered but there is no bonus material. This is just a straight re-release.
1. The Same River (12:01)
2. Out of Myself (3:43)
3. I Believe (4:14)
4. Reality Dream (6:15)
5. Loose Heart (4:50)
6. Reality II (4:45)
7. In Two Minds (4:38)
8. The Curtain Falls (7:59)
9. OK (4:46)
Mariusz Duda / vocals, bass, acoustic guitar
Piotr Grudziński / electric guitars
Jacek Melnicki / keyboards
Piotr Kozieradzki / drum, percussion
Krzysztof Melnicki / trombone (9)
Format: Special Edition CD Digipak & Sticker, black LP+CD, coloured LP+CD, Digital album
Label: InsideOut Music
Originally Released: 2003
Re-release Date: 12th February 2021
If you listen carefully, you could get a little bit of Tool too (a pleasant surprise).