RIVERSIDE — Second Life Syndrome

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RIVERSIDE - Second Life Syndrome cover
4.32 | 94 ratings | 8 reviews
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Album · 2005

Filed under Metal Related


1. After (3:31)
2. Volte-Face (8:40)
3. Conceiving You (3:40)
4. Second Life Syndrome (15:40)
5. Artificial Smile (5:27)
6. I Turned You Down (4:34)
7. Reality Dream III (5:01)
8. Dance With the Shadow (11:38)
9. Before (5:23)

Total Time: 63:39


- Mariusz Duda / bass, vocals
- Piotr Grudziñski / guitars
- Piotr Kozieradzki / drums
- Michal Lapaj / keyboards

About this release

CD Inside Out / Mystic Production

Cover art by Travis Smith

Released in Poland as a digipack by Mystic Production, released in the rest of the world by Inside Out. Both have the same cover/layout.

- Produced By Riverside, Magda & Robert Srzedniccy
- Recorded, Engineered & Mixed By Magda & Robert - Srzedniccy
- Mastered By Jacek Gawłowski

Thanks to andyman1125, bartosso for the updates


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The Crow
After the splendid Out of Myself, Riverside achieved to do even better witch Second Life Syndrome!

Not just the production is better, also the playing of all the members of the band improved since their debut, raising the level of complexity and deep to previous unknown limits for this band. The general style of the album is a bit less jazzy than in the band's first release. So, if you are a diehard fan of Out of Myself, maybe you'll miss the most trip-hop atmospheric sections.

But the band gained tons of skills in songwriting, achieving a collection of songs which is far superior. I honestly think that the band's peak is here. In Anno Domini High Definition they almost achieved the great quality of Second Life Syndrome, but it's a step under nevertheless. Let's discover what made this record so good!

The album starts with After, a very dramatic and appropriate intro with splendid vocals and the rest of the band sounding just perfect. This song is like an introduction of what Mariusz Duda would make in its parallel project Lunatic Soul, ethnic influences included. Then Volte-Face comes like a punch in your face with its strong riffs, passionate singing and oriental melodies. Stronger, very stronger than Out of Myself.

But then Conceiving You brings back this most intimate side of the band, much in the style of In Two Minds of the previous release. The lyrics are also perfect, making a milestone in the band's career, just like the title track... An authentic progressive tour de force in three acts with perfect songwriting, marvelous lyrics and an epic guitar solo towards the end. Outstanding!

And the guys of Riverside wanted not to bring the party down, so after Second Life Syndrome they included Artificial Smile, another great and rocky song, very prog and perfect to be played live. But if you think that the thigs could not be better, then listen to I Turned You Down... The best song of the album and one of the best of the band's whole career. I can't even describe what this song means to me... And my wife. I just LOVE it.

Reality Dream III is a superb instrumental track with protagonism for Lapaj and the solos of the very missed Grudzinski. Better than the Reality Dreams of Out of Myself in my opinion. And what's to say about Dance with the Shadows? It starts in a very soft way, with a very catchy vocal melody from Duda, and it soon evolves to a very dynamic and complete progressive metal song, with the typical Riverside's more atmospheric and dramatic sections in the middle. The lyrics talk about loss and craziness, introducing the main theme of the next album Rapid Eye Movement. Great riff after the minute 9!

And Before ends the album in the same way that OK did in Out of Myself... Another precious lyric from Duda for a track with trip hop influences.

Summary: Second Life Syndrome is not perfect, but every song included is just great. If you like melancholic crossover prog with strong lyrics, great playing, a very personal approach to instrumental sections and a unique voice this is the best place to start. This is still in my opinion the Riverside's best album to date.

An outstanding masterpiece and one of the best progressive rock albums from the last decade.

Best Tracks: all of them.

My Rating: *****

This review is dedicated to the great and very missed guitarist Piotr Grudzinski. Rest in peace wherever you are, brother!
Second Life Syndrome is the second full-length studio album from the Polish Progressive band Riverside. It was released in 2005 and was the second part of the story in the conceptual series `Reality Dream.'

If you listen to a lot of Prog you can pick out bits here and there that remind you of King Crimson, Van Der Graff Generator, Pink Floyd etc, as well as pieces of Pendragron, IQ, Marillion and there are touches that evoke the spirit of Opeth, Tool, Porcupine Tree and even tiny bits of Dream Theater too.

The thing is though, that Riverside seamlessly blend all the classic, mid-era and modern prog styles together and though a bit of a song here or there will remind you of another band, it still sounds like Riverside as opposed to that band and therein lies the band's greatest strength and truest appeal.

Riverside go a long way towards summarising everything that's good about the sound of progressive music without leaning too heavily on any one influence and without being too old fashioned for the fans who normally only like modern music or too metallic for the fans who can't normally stand metal.

As a Riverside album, Second Life Syndrome is a masterpiece. It is a masterfully executed and top quality example of how intelligent and interesting music can be without having to get so dense and impenetrable that its no-longer enjoyable, or oversimplify so much that it no-longer has anything to say. As to where it sits in the band's discography, stylistically this second album injects a few more metal moments into the band's sound when compared with their debut, but the song writing is a little grander and less condensed than on their third album. It sums up the band's signature sound really rather well and the standard of both song writing and musicianship is simply wonderful.

Mariusz Duda's voice and singing style is fantastically evocative here and manages to convey a great deal of emotion and information without really conforming to how a lead singer for this sort of music might usually sound. Tracks like `Volte-Face,' `Conceiving You' and the Title Track show off both his key, bass and vocal skills and how much ground the band can cover while never letting a song feel whacky or like a disparate collection of unrelated parts.

Overall; this is an immensely enjoyable record that I enjoy a great deal and which I'd whole-heartedly recommend to any fan of this sort of music. There is a brilliant sense of flow and a lot of variety, and crucially no song feels unnecessary or out of place. Comment
I seem to be in the rare position of not actually liking Riverside's second album as much as their first. I don't know what it is - certainly, aside from a slightly heavier emphasis on the metal side of their sound, most of the ingredients of the first album are here - but on balance I think it's down to the album sounding a bit more cold and clinical in its execution than the previous album was. It's enough to make me worry that Riverside may go down the same path as so many other prog metal albums whose works are widely celebrated in the community but leave me cold - an over-emphasis on technicality without a corresponding increase in the band's command of emotion and atmosphere (or, as in so any cases, a positive decrease in that).
Riverside create an emotionally charged masterpiece of colossal power.

The second Riverside album features some of the most enduring material of the band and the heaviest work until the masterpiece "Anno Domine High Definition". Mariusz Duda is always excellent on lead vocals and also plays bass. The guitar work of Piotr Grudzinski is incredible on this album. Michal Lapaj is simply astonishing on keyboards and Piotr Kozieradzki is wonderful on drums. Every track on this album is superb, and some tracks are indispensable. 'After' begins with whispers that are rather chilling and then a very slow ambient Porcupine tree style sound takes over.

'Volte Face' has a driving heavy rhythm and wonderful guitar notes ringing out over the loud percussion and shimmering Hammond. Then that awesome riff with odd time sig crunches and it is a prog metal sanctuary. The spacey vocals add to the atmospherics until we get to the first verse. The melody is pleasant in the quieter sections and it builds to the aggressive passage "I'm not afraid", and the Hammond quivers over the crashing guitar chords. Masterpiece song without a doubt.

The piano solo that begins 'Conceiving You' is appropriate as Duda really delivers a powerhouse vocal, with emotion and vitality, "been conceiving you for too long, if only I could change all things around." The lead break cries and soars as the soundscape builds to a crescendo. The wall of sound that Riverside are able to create is astounding, and really touches the emotions powerfully.

The first epic is 'Second Life Syndrome' a 15 minute eargasm of intricate virtuoso musicianship and towering vocals. An instant classic, the song boasts one of the best structures of the band's repertoire. It begins with a drone and Pink Floyd style guitar riff and then it gets heavier building in intensity, with Hammond blazing and a divine bassline locks in. The vocals of Duda are crystalline and pleasant; "From day to day, From hand to mouth, We're turning around, Vicious ritual, Getting used to it all, Falling down again, We're waiting for, The decrees of providence." The melody is ultra-infectious and the heavy guitars augment the dark overtones. Soon the lead break takes over and it is superbly executed by Grudzinski. There is no mistaking the massive sound on the keyboards, violently hammered by Lapaj. The song settles into bassline and echoing keyboards, changing feel and allowing the music to breathe. Duda is gentler on part two; "I just want to feel your sigh on my neck, Want to feel your breath, Feel your need to stay, You don't know my name, Don't know my face, Only thoughts I share in my secret place, Secret exhibition, Cure for loneliness, I've ground to a halt, There's no turning back, You know there are things I just can't forget, You've helped me so much, To learn to be detached." The second lead break is spacious and soars with sustained held high pitched notes. Part three, Vicious Ritual, is an instrumental to finish this magnificent track. The music becomes spacey and whispers are heard with footsteps effects. The result is a creepy but compelling sound. As the bass joins in cadence with the whispers, guitars grind out a crushing distorted chord structure. A King Crimson polyphonic rhythm dominates, and some more vocal intonations "you will never suffer." The last lead break is the final drawcard and caps off an absolutely brilliant track.

'Artificial Smile' follows with a fast heavy tempo and some sensuous synths over a melodic hook. The vocals are still clear though much faster, and he occasionally uses a raspy tone to emphasise the anger in the words; "I hate you cos they love you, I'm so happy when they left you, this is my life! Sell me your mind!" This may be one of the heaviest Riverside songs but has still the strong organic symphonic nuances and equable lead guitar.

'I Turned You Down' drips with an endearing bassline and peaceful guitar violining. The spacey textures are the sort of music that would permeate the next album. Very ambient verses follow; "I turned you down so hastily, and it's tearing me apart, in my heart of hearts I'm screaming, in my heart of hearts I cry and it's cold, you're so cold." The lead guitar swells are beautiful over the synths. A heavier riff threatens to break through before a lead break overwhelms the serenity, and it is a darker atmosphere that supervenes.

Following this is 'Reality Dream III' with nice reverberated harmonics in the intro until a bass rhythm fades up. The tempo locks in and becomes an unusual time sig. The instrumental makes a pleasant break and one can just become immersed in the music. There is a heavy metal riff that pounds and chugs along and then a heavy handed piano is heard. The guitars join this new time change and then the Hammond returns like an old friend.

'Dance With the Shadow' is the second epic of the album starting with a low drone and gentle vocals. The Gilmour-esque guitar is prevalent and then an extremely heavy guitar changes it and it is more like Dream Theater with Petrucci riffs. The synthesis of psych space prog and metal is a key feature. The middle section settles into a calmer tunnel I'm standing on the edge about to fall, in the middle of the point o no return, trying to forget those days I failed to act, I can almost see the light, feel its warmth, and as the moment I was waiting or so long, I carry all before me now the die is cast, with open arms I'm standing out against my past." At 10 minutes in the sound builds up and a cataclysmic explosion of Hammond and metal dramatically clash and the riffs intensify till it ends. Incredible breathtaking music.

The final track 'Before' is a slow calm after the storm. It builds to a forceful flurry of riffs and then it is all over, and you long to play the whole album again.

The only conclusion that can be drawn after being treated to this extraordinary music is that this is a masterpiece from Riverside. Everything works perfectly to create some absolutely incredible music; the vocals, bass, guitars, keys and drums are an amalgamation that showcases all that is great about prog rock. Strong melodies, intricate complex time sigs, compelling lyrics and amazing musicianship. This, along with "Anno Domine High Definition", is one album that towers over all the rest.
Conceiving greatness.

Riverside is one of the new progressive metal acts of this (well technically last) decade. However, one thing really separated Riverside from the rest: they’re damn good. Unlike the countless number of new progressive metal acts that have flooded the scene, most of which are just copies (or slight variants) of Dream Theater, Riverside really exemplifies the spirit of creativity and inventiveness in the genre. The band is exquisitely unique and enjoyable, combining softer heavy prog with a deliberate and ambient avant metal. From all this, we get a tasty blend of a new brand of progressive metal, Riverside style.

The album starts with After, a haunting vocal piece, before breaking into an ambient and mellow “ethno-fusion” track with some cool percussive effects and some great textures to go along. Overall the track acts as a spectacular transition to a slowly crescendoing album full of tricks and tasty treats.

Volte-Face fades in from After and slowly crescendos into a rocking and experimental groove fit for kings. The song is the first taste of Riverside’s incredible ability to dish out intensely creative music. The song has no trouble modulating between feels and utilizing Hammond textures and supreme riffs and instrumental sections. The band obviously has intense compositional skill, and they are able to utilize it in fantastic ways. Overall, the track poses the first taste to Riverside’s great ability on this fantastic album.

Conceiving You is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Blasting open with a near tear-jerkingly beautiful piano melody, the song shows Riverside’s interpretation of Progressive Metal’s compassionate and melodic side. Overall, the track is easily one of the best on the album and shows how Riverside can effortlessly take music and meld into the beautiful form it deserves – a skill not many possess.

Second Life Syndrome is the monster 15 minute track of the album (every album needs one!). The song has a long buildup wait, which is highly paid back by the catchy bass line and atmospheric and highly infectious guitar playing. The song slowly builds into a rocking and highly amazing epic of, well, epic proportions. The song is very traditional to the great Riverside sound, with much slower tempos than much of Prog Metal and an overall very atmospheric and reliant more on sudden accents for excitement than crazy instrumental sections. Overall, the title track is another fantastic track, with high points at the atmospheric instrumental sections, some damn infectious bass lines, and just an overall sense of intense inventiveness. The melodic structure of Duda’s voice is very unconventional and refreshing. This song is just great!

Artificial Smile is the first real “rocking” song on the album. Starting right off with a great riff and breaking into a still great rocking and atmospheric verse and easily modulating in and out of that feel. We hear a strong influence of harder metal influences like Opeth in this song especially. Overall, this song is yet another great track of the album, exemplifying all the great qualities of Riverside’s music.

I Turned You Down is one of the more atmospheric and ambient of the album’s track. It has a much greater emphasis on vocal melody than instrumental value. It has a slower, more deliberate and moving feel to it than the others. Overall a great track also.

Reality Dream III is the final in a trilogy of Reality Dream instrumentals, and it does not disappoint. It has a slow crescendo into a rushing and amazing dynamic that is very atypical of the album’s music feel but also has strong ties with the “ethno-rock/metal” feel of their music. Overall, the track provides one of the most musically refreshing rides that I’ve experienced in a while. The band really goes all out on this one. Each member has his say in where he plays, when he plays, how he plays, just to make the absolute perfect track.

Dance with the Shadow is just a fantastic track. Opening with an ominous and atmospheric melodic vocal section, the song slowly builds into a rocking and greatly dynamic track, mixing great metal riffs and slower more deliberate and hard progish riffs and ethno rhythms. The song is really the first to show the band’s true connection to the genre with a great and crazy instrumental section with a cool synth solo that just drops right back into the slower and melodic beauty of Doma’s voice and bass playing. Overall, it is the next epic and a fantastic show of the band’s skill in every aspect.

Before, the ending, ends the album on a similar to note to what it began, a more atmospheric and ethno sounding track. It closes the concept of a man who can’t stand his own self and refuses to accept reality (at least my perception, I haven’t looked into the lyrics very much). The song is a fantastic “summary” of what you have just experienced, mixing some of the heavier aspects of the song with more of the slower and deliberate and melodic feels of the album in a marvelous amalgam of music. Overall, the track ends the album fantastically, leaving you excellently satisfied with life.

ALBUM OVERALL: It’s easy to see why this album is considered one of the best of the progressive metal genres, even though the band and the album aren’t even 10 years old (well the band is 10, but the album is merely 6). To see such a “youngling” excel amongst 25 year vets like Dream Theater and 20 year runner ups like Pain of Salvation is extremely impressive. The album success is mainly due to its great new style – nothing that the average prog metal head has ever heard of. The band fuses a delicious blend of ethnic metal and progressive rock to make an infectious brand of music – Riverside style. Overall, the album is nearly perfect, except some of the atmospheric stuff could have been forsaken. But, other than that, the album has not a single flaw and provides one of the most exciting and refreshing musical rides the genre has heard in a long while. 5- stars.

Polish people, coming over here, taking our jobs. To be honest, if some Polish guy is taking your job, then you must be pretty bad at it, is what I usually say to racists. There is an amazing, quite hidden music scene in Poland, with some amazing Prog (and not so Prog) bands, like Osada Vida, these guys, and Behemoth (thats the only ones I can remember).

But these guys are quite an amazing bunch, taking a sound that can only be described as mellow Opeth or heavy Porcupine Tree, displaying both opposites, and becoming their own anthithesis, quite ironic. But it works for these guys.

I had to order this in my local HMV, cause they were too bad enough to have it. But I was glad the day I got it. But I don't need the hassle of going through that, now that I can shop online (but I mostly buy obscure power metal bands online).

Yea, this one amazing album, it really is something unique, and these guys can really make a piece of music interesting.

The artwork (done by that whore Travis Smith), is quite good as well, and the booklet smells amazing (Inside Out booklets always have an amazing smell, try it, if that doesn't seem to weird).

1. After - Nice atmospheric intro with some nice Sikth like poetry. The rest is almost Arabic like percussion with a heavy drone and spacy vocals.

2. Volte-Face - The intro is very droney. The following riffs sound like a mixture between Black Sabbath and Opeth. The intro is an amazing mixture between prog metal and jazz. The vocals are very Katatonia with the layering and the spacy atmosphere to his voice. Pretty cool chorus. The piano solo is also amazing. This song has a very spacy, almost Hawkind vibe to it.

3. Conceiving You - Very beautifull piano based ballad with some great vocals and very Pink Floyd like guitar work.

4. Second Life Syndrome - Wow, what a song. Very atmospheric instrumental intro. The off beat rhythym throughout is very effective. The chorus is amazing. The second part shows a more No-Man like side, very mellow. The chorus also returns and is perfected, but slowed down as well. I love the almost scat vocal like section. The third part is an instrumental, showing a recurring theme that is played at least once by each instrument, which is very classically inspired (Concerto Grosso, yea, classical music has helped me alot). This song is said to basically sum up Riverside's sound, and yea it does. An amazing song.

5. Artifical Smile - Sounds like if Opeth were to cover punk songs. I love the chorus, Mariusz's vocals are very angry. One of the best songs on the album i my opinion.

6. I Turned You Down - A very atmospheric ballad like song, with an amazing effective chorus.

7. Reality Dream III - Wow, what an amazing instrumental. The piano bit at the end sounds like if Iron Maiden were to play Final Fantasy music.

8. Dance With The Shadow - The intro has a very ominous drone and the vocals add a quite beautiful eerieness to it. When the main riff in the song comes in, the song just clinks together, into wondefull fruition. Amazing guitar solo at the end.

9. Before - The intro sounds like a droney Aphex Twin song. A very Opeth vibe to this song, reminds me of Isolation Years off of Ghost Reveries. A nice Porcupine Tree like way to end the album. I like the scream at the end that fades out.

CONCLUSION: An amazing modern Prog album. If you haven't heard of these guys, then I suggest you get this album, and maybe some of the rest. I hear their new one is even better.

I turn my attention to "Second Life Syndrome" after reading so many positive appraisal on this album and apparently my decision to grab this album didn't disappoint me at all as after only a single spin, this album hooks me instantly with a right amount of progressive metal, psychedelic ambience, catchy hooks, and great musical delivery. I wouldn't argue if many claimed that Riverside's musical style is a smart combination of Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater, and Tool, as I discovered many elements derived from those bands, but they're not necessarily imitating, instead they blend those aspects into their own signature soundscape.

The overture, "After", is truly a great song, like a haunting and hypnotic prayer, it sends a chill to my spine. The follow-up, "Volte Face", stretched to 8 minutes and full of progressive metal moments with heavy riffin' and you can hear a hint of middle eastern flavour at the end of the song. "Conceiving You" is a beautiful downtempo soothing ballad, similar with the spacey "I Turned You Down", but I pick "Conceiving" as a stronger song. "Artificial Smile" is an enigmatic track with catchy easy-access riffage and Duda's hellish scream at the later part of the song is admirable. "Reality Dream III" started with Lapaj's dreamy keyboard before burst with Grudzinski's heavy riffin, this one is clearly a Dream Theater influenced instrumental track.

The title track, emerged as their greatest piece of the album, weaving to almost 16 minutes, this became the longest epic of the album. The journey started slow with Pink Floyd-ish guitar style before Duda's floating voice creeps in with his gentle bass slap. Riverside put a thrilling experience on every minute of the song, created a spectacular atmosphere from start to finish. This is definitely their best song and my most fave part of the album. "Dance With The Shadow" shown a good chaotic combo of psychedelic and progressive metal while "Before" fades the album out with a good slow tempo manner.

I recalled that this isn't my first experience with Riverside as I already had a copy of their debut, "Out of My Self", which I only gave couple of spins years ago and put it safe on the shelf. I found back then they're a good band but didn't arouse my interest to explore further, but with "Second Life Syndrome", this changed my whole opinion about them. I don't know yet if this is their masterpiece or not, but one thing I know is a five stars rating isn't too much to give.
Phonebook Eater

"Second Life Syndrome" is one of the most important prog metal albums.

Polish band Riverside arrives at their second album in 2005, the second of a trilogy dedicated to the unconsciousness of man. The album, Second Life Syndrome, is considered by many their best album yet, and one of the most important albums of progressive metal. And let me say that I totally agree. The album is journey through the confusion, the preoccupations and the anxieties of man in the new millenium, an impressive record that many will not forget easily. The style isn't typically "metal", because many times it's more concentrated on the prog side. Always has a melancholic feeling, and a slight touch of grimness and mystery. "After" is a beautiful song, very calm but very melancholic, with the large use of vocalisms.

"Volte Face" is great, aggressive, with many metal moments, as well as experimental ones. Fantastic, one of the best of the album.

"Conceiving You" is another calm and beautiful song, with a really nice piano that accompanies Duda's great voice.

"Second Life Syndrome" is the 15 minute epic piece, no doubt the best song in the album. Many moods , rhythms, and melodies, all beautiful and powerful, effective and very emotional. A masterpiece.

"Artificial Smile" is another excellent piece, very catchy and I think it could have really been released as a single, and of course it could have drawn many peoples attention.

"i Turned You Down" is a great song, a little calm but effective, like almost all the songs in this album. It has a great melody, initially I underrated this song a little too much.

"Reality Dream III" is the last of the trilogy. Similar to the other too for the structure(all three are instrumental), it is still great and it never bores.

"Dancing With the Shadow" is the second longest song in this album (11 minutes). Similar by structure to the title track, but I think its slightly inferior, even though this one has many great moments, sometimes amazing.

I'm not so crazy about the last song, "Before", I find it kind of flat and repetitive.

However, this is one fantastic album, essential for whoever loves prog and/or metal. ENJOY!

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