On February 21st, 2016, guitarist and Riverside founder Piotr Grudziński died from sudden cardiac arrest: he was approaching his 41st birthday. This obviously left the other three members with the question of what to do, and even whether to keep the band going. "I remember the moment when we officially announced that we would continue as a trio," says Mariusz Duda, the vocalist and main composer in the band. "We were doing a photoshoot at the Polish seaside. I said to the guys, 'Let's remember that this is just the beginning. Many of our fans can't imagine an album without Grudzień and for some of them the band ceased to exist when he died. We have to prove that we are able to survive not only by playing concerts but, most of all, by recording a new album." They decided to record an album from the point of view of someone bereft, someone who has survived a tragedy. The fact that the album would be recorded without their guitarist might result in having to experiment musically a little more than usual but, most of all, it might translate into deeper symbolism and carry a more profound meaning.
For live performances they have been joined by Maciej Meller, who provides some solos on the album, but the band decided that for this release Duda would provide guitars as well as bass and vocals, that it was too soon and too raw to commit to a full-time replacement guitarist. In many ways it would have been easier for the band to continue in the same manner as the last studio album, as there would have been less strident guitar attack, but although in many ways this will be felt by many as being a transition album as the band recovered, this to me shows the band moving forward again. Along with Piotr Kozieradzki (drums) and Michał Łapaj (keyboards and Hammond organ), Duda has created an album which is a link between the last and what had preceded it, as well as looking to the future. They have also been joined by violinist Michal Jelonek, who adds an additional element on a few songs, as the band look to expand their musical horizons and continue to build on the legacy left by their close friend.
Some of the songs sound as if they could have come from the last album, with the delicacy and restraint they showed then, while others are from a far more rock oriented Riverside. Ever since their inception they have been a favourite band of mine, and like many fans I wondered what was going to happen after the passing of Grudziński, but it appears that the future is bright. It will be interesting to see what happens with the next album, as this one was always going to be about recovery and see if they still wanted to do it, but with more gigs under their belt and a permanent guitarist in their ranks, the sky is the limit.