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Kiiinda boring - 37%

The_Boss, June 24th, 2008

Riverside is a Polish progressive metal/rock band that plays a very mellow and atmospheric style of ‘relaxing’ music. The music itself ranges from very slow acoustic or clean passages with quite emotional and heartfelt vocals to some sort of rocking and more metal parts, but not much in between. This isn’t exactly the most metal band out there, it’s more like progressive stuff like Porcupine Tree and the lighter moments in Rush type stuff… or maybe a much less heavy and more emotional version of Dream Theater. I like to use the word ‘emotional’ here because it’s the only way I can describe the music with the vocals being a highlight. Marius Duda does a great job of being very expressive in his feelings or senses with the slower parts in Riverside’s music.

The music here isn’t the fastest, the most metal, the most brutal, but at least it does have a sense of musicianship and well thought out song structures. It’s quite progressive having many melody changes and shifting through some sort of equilibrium of time with the meandering of the longer songs. It seems like this type of music is more found for people who like softer variants of metal. Take the song Conceiving You; it’s a simple and melodic ballad type song that has a great highlight of passionate vocals and the lead guitar shines here with enjoyable lead melodies. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the musicianship in Riverside; everything from the vocals to bass to guitar is competent. Duda doubles with vocals and bass duty showing his emotional and passionate side and occasionally breaking out in harsher screams and yells (by harsh I mean something you’d find like Russell Allen’s heavier moments, and shows some wonderful bass lines, especially on the 15 minute title track with fun bass breaks. The lead guitar crunches along for the most part, but the song continues to bore me in the lower and mellow parts. Almost 5 minutes in it just goes into boring mode with slow guitar and even slower drums, at least Duda has a good voice otherwise it would be easily skipworthy. I have nothing wrong with long songs as I completely enjoy The Odyssey and all of Pagan’s Minds work, same with Dream Theater, but here it just doesn’t work. The songs rely on the vocals too much which is somewhat of a turn off, because his voice after a while seems like it’s too wimpy for a metal band.

The biggest problem here is how the songs are often boring as shit from the lack of upbeat and enjoyable parts. It’s mostly slow acoustic, clean or piano/key driven openers into some melodic guitar passages and even more melodic singing, or crooning I should say as Duda has quite a voice, something that could fit in with pop music almost. Again, he can show his talent at times, but a lot of parts its so weak and soft it’s like he’s singing in a pop band; other times he’s whispering or something as if this were a gothic band showing their dark side. Listen to the first song After, where he basically whispers the entire thing about his inner struggles. Very emo, isn’t this a metal band?

I think this could have major potential, because the guitarist is very talented and maybe if he started pulling off some faster stuff or actually soloing like a metal guitarist instead of weaker slow solos basing itself mostly on atmosphere. The solo on the title track at about 14 minutes is good though and the ‘atmosphere’ actually works because the bass is so powerful and allowing for some fun prog. Songs like Artificial Smile have so much potential to become a prog powerhouse, like the first 15 seconds or so start off awesome, something like Dream Theater meets Iron Maiden (guitar part reminded me of Maiden not sure why) and then it just all drops out after that and bases the whole music on Duda’s voice and weak guitar riffs or keyboard/synth driven melodies that get old and boring after a while.

Riverside isn’t completely a terrible band. I can see how a lot of people will like this, fans of really softer or total prog bands like Porcupine Tree, 3, or Dream Theater’s softer moments will love this probably. But it’s very soft music, it’s barely metal; it’s progressive rock but not the awesome type like Rush with amazing musicianship. The music here reminds me of stuff that you’d listen to when you’re down or it’s raining and you feel bad. It’s very emotional, atmospheric and vocal based music that requires a lot of attention to listen to. I can enjoy some of the stuff, the more metal and upbeat songs like Volte Face, Artificial Face and Reality Dream III for the most part because at least it might actually warrant being metal. Reality Dream III starts off like the norm, but this time it at least grows up into a metal song with some crunchy RIFFING, something you could almost headbang to; but it goes away quick with more mellow clean guitar ‘soloing’ and soft bass/drum rhythms.

Riverside is a specific band for specific fans, if you’re a total prog junkie this will probably be right up your alley with plenty of soft mellow moments and emotional vocals; but if you’re looking for some metal, stuff like the more metal prog like Pagan’s Mind or Spheric Universe Experience then wrong place because this is very soft music for softer fans. Not much here to headbang to, nothing really to even sing along with… it’s just there to relax you, maybe make you sad I’m not sure. This is pretty boring, so I’ll go look for some heavier metal.