Album Review: "Out of Myself" ~ Riverside (2004)

Posted by prla1983 on August 27, 2005 • 0 commentsEmail This Post

Sheer emotion from Poland

Those who know me well acknowledge the fact that I'm a bit compulsive about the things I like. I have to admit I am that way to some extent. Some things I can't just casually enjoy, I get almost fanatical about them. Fortunately, that's only the case with a few selects things. Another thing that's part of my character, is a strong inclination towards the unconventional, that which hadn't been done yet or that which is extremely original and heartfelt. Right now, I can tell you of at least one band that fits all these bills: RIVERSIDE.

"Out of Myself", RIVERSIDE's debut album, is a concept album about one finding inner peace, understanding of himself and the surrounding world. According to the band's vocalist and bassist, Mariusz Duda, this is the first part of a trilogy dealing with the aforementioned subjects and, let me tell you, if the next two pieces are on par with this one, then I can't wait for them and this trilogy will become a huge classic.

I wouldn't say RIVERSIDE are strictly a progressive band but they surely approach it in a very strong manner. So much so that this album can clearly appeal to 70's progressive rock lovers. The closest they come to being really progressive is right on the first track, "The Same River", an ambitious 12 minute piece which goes through different moods and emotions, always showing a band that's unbelievably tight for a debut, aswell as instrumentally superior. Take for instance, right after the first section of the song, how ethereal the guitar that enters the scene at 04:40 really is. Piotr Kozieradzki's drum work is always precise yet rather complex and Michal Lapaj's keyboards provide a sweet backdrop to the song (and the rest of the album too).

Throughout the record, the idea I got is that RIVERSIDE are the perfect cross between PORCUPINE TREE (in the sense of ever present surprises and unexpected turns in their songs) and OPETH (especially with their "Damnation" album). In fact, Duda's vocals reminded me more than once of Mikael Akerfeldt's clean vocals. Also thrown in for good measure are some PINK FLOYD influences.

Speaking of Duda's vocals, rarely I listened to someone sing with such warmth and feeling. Take for example "I Believe", "Loose Heart" and especially "In Two Minds" which starts with a telephone-like sort of whispered and echoed voice (another PORCUPINE TREE trademark and possible influence) and then becomes crystal clear. This song's arrangement blew me away. This is top notch composition, as far as I'm concerned and Duda's vocals always give me goosebumps. Piotr Grudzinski's guitar work is also amazing and perfectly balanced.

"The Curtain Falls" is a more experimental tune, yet rather good, and "Ok" basically gives Duda singing softly over a sort of trip hop-ish backdrop. Interspersed within the album, are also two moody pieces "Reality Dream I" and "Reality Dream II" which serve the concept purpose of the album making use of interesting samples - the sound of a phone call producing a dial error, an alarm clock going off, a clock ticking. Both are probably the heaviest numbers on the album showing the metal side of the band. I suggest you check the section in "Reality Dream I" from 03:58 to 04:51 for the ultimate demonstration of what this band is instrumentally capable of, in particular the odd time signatures produced by Kozieradzki and of course Grudzinski's guitar work. The whole of "In Two Minds" show just how good Duda is as a singer.

The production is top notch and that's a relief because it would be a shame if such a truly beautiful piece of work got ruined by it. The worldwide release of "Out of Myself" features cover art designed by Travis Smith (of OPETH and ANATHEMA fame) which pretty much suits the underlying concept.

My compulsiveness towards the things I like may sometimes be a problem, but bear with me on this one. Usually when a band debuts with such a great album it either disbands immediately (CYNIC comes to mind) or is destined to great things. I sense RIVERSIDE are on the latter group. I just hope they get that little bit of luck everyone needs to succeed, because the talent, the emotion, the technique, the ability... well, it's all there. Saint-Exupery once said that "perfection is not achieved when there's nothing more to add but rather when there's nothing more to take away". While I don't claim "Out of Myself" to be perfect (despite the hands-down 5 star rating) it certainly comes very close to fitting that phrase.

You want to have this album. Don't say I didn't warn you.

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