RIVERSIDE — Second Life Syndrome (review)

RIVERSIDE — Second Life Syndrome album cover Album · 2005 · Metal Related Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
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!
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