Riverside - _Memories in My Head_
(ProgTeam Management, 2011)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (8 out of 10)
I can expect a lot of accusations of ‘genre bigotry' if I denied prog fans their title if they admitted their un-familiarity with Riverside. The fact of the matter is that prog (be it rock or metal) is quite a niche type of music. Its fans are usually the kind of musical omnivores who constantly roam the underground scenes looking for the more progressive, complex, conceptual, alien and odd sounding bands. Throughout 2011, I had stumbled upon some pleasant and some rather unpleasant progressive records; from Steven Wilson's _Grace for Drowning_ all the way down to Opeth's _Heritage_. But I digress. So in the interest of putting the information out there, I feel I should point out that Riverside are a Polish quartet that has been making progressive metal/rock since 2001 and, like every band in the world, has had its up and downs. Of course, as the score above tells you, this is not one of the downs.

Riverside's music paints a picture of a mystical world full of exploration and variety, yet it is somehow tightly knit together in a very eloquent fashion. _Memories in My Head_ is quite similar to the first two Riverside albums which presented the first two parts of a trilogy. The trilogy was later completed by _Rapid Eye Movement_, but from a musical point of view, it wasn't really complementary to the first two. This one, however, feels like the perfect follow-up to _Out of Myself_ and _Second Life Syndrome_. The lyrics, as usual, don't take a bigger percentage than needed, which leaves enough space for each member to be creative with his instrument and explore new sounds. This excellent display of musicianship, both collective and individual, is accompanied by Riverside's staple specialty: stellar production. Production quality has always been one of the major highlights of their work and _Memories in My Head_ is no exception.

"Goodbye Sweet Innocence" starts off with a couple of minutes of psychedelics until front-man Maurisz Duda leads the band with his bass guitar. The cooperation between Piotr "Mittloff" Kozieradzki on the drums and Maurisz's inventive bass lines has always made Riverside a band with a powerful rhythm section. "Living in the Past" endures a patient build up in 6/4 that gives way to a most sensuous lead guitar line. The song then ebbs and flows in exploration of various emotions using both the instruments and the lyrics. The third track "Forgotten Lands" is an ode to a land that once was. Maurisz assumes the role of a curator that tells the story with the main intention in his mind that the listener learns from the story. The story unfolds with events that have a timeless value behind them that makes for an interesting listen.

_Memories in My Head_ has the power of partially impairing my critical ability. The three tracks flow seamlessly into one another as if they're one big piece of music that's designed to elevate and inspire the listener. This step in Riverside's career sounds like they may be on the path to releasing an album that tops their first two and lift their progressive style to uncharted heights. The current signs point towards that, but only time will tell.

Contact: http://www.myspace.com/riversidepl

(article published 12/2/2012)

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