Celebrating their first decade, the Polish musicians from Riverside decided to treat their fans with the outstanding 32-minute mini-album Memories In My Head. After four highly acclaimed full-length albums and a number of EP's, the band recorded a special anniversary album before heading for a new studio album, that should be released somewhere in 2012. Containing only three compositions, Riverside tried to gain a full circle by returning to their more melodic, spacious and soundtrack-like music of the first two albums.
Opener Goodbye Sweet Innocence immediately takes you back to a more relaxed way of singing, mixing the influences of Porcupine Tree with less-progressive rock bands like Muse. The music contains a rather spacey atmosphere created by nostalgic sounding keyboards in the best tradition of Pink Floyd. To be honest, after listening again to the albums of Lunatic Soul - that I like very much - I'm happy with the way bass player and singer Mariusz Duda handles the smooth and relaxed voices. The steady rumbling bass and the outstanding combination of guitar and keyboards finish off a great song.
As the title already indicates, Living In The Past is a blast from the past with authentic sounding keyboards, that seemed to be recorded in the seventies, and stretched guitar sounds in the vein of Camel and even Yes. The keyboards certainly have a Rick Wakeman- touch every now and then, but Riverside's modern view is shown by the power riffs and the omnipresent bass guitar. Here the band create a bridge between the seventies prog rock and their own modern progressive music; very impressive indeed.
On the opening of Forgotten Land I immediately had Rush in mind. The sound of the bass guitar could have been taken from an old Rush-album, but when the vocals of Mariusz Duda take over there's no doubt at all. In the past decade this typical voice found its way to the hearts of true progressive rock fans. Smooth vocals, adventurous drumming and the tremendous melodic guitar and keyboards all struggle for attention. Forgotten Land turned out to be a Riverside-song the way most people like to hear it: a combination of sounds from the past and the present.
Riverside did it again! In the past decade these Polish musicians succeeded in recording great music that really added something to the progressive rock scene. I'm sure they will continue making fantastic albums in the future. With even a short album like this Riverside claims a position in my personal top-five of all-time progressive rock bands together with Rush, Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater and Tool. What these bands have in common is expansion of the boundaries of the genre.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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