Riverside - Out Of Myself,
Over the last 30+ years it has been rare for me to review an album more than once, there must be something special for that to happen, yet here I am once again falling in love with an album which I originally wrote back in 2004. The rationale this time around is because Inside Out Music have now made it available for the first time on their label as a digipak as well as vinyl and has been re-mastered by Dan Swanö (Opeth, Katatonia, Nightingale). These days, Riverside are probably the largest progressive export from Poland, and right from the beginning this album looked like it was going to create a stir as after it had been released independently it was picked up by Sony, while the band then signed to Laser’s Edge for a worldwide release. This was big news in the scene, as this was still in the dark days of Prog, when labels and mass media were trying at best to ignore the genre and at worse were trying to kill it, so to be picked up by Sony was huge.
What’s it like returning to it after so many years? It’s like falling in love all over again. Right from the beginning I knew this was special and was so thankful for being allowed to hear so much great music from Poland thanks to my friendship with Polish Prog DJ and writer Artur Chachlowski. Back then I described the album as being one of those prog albums that goes into the head and stays there: think Porcupine Tree, Radiohead, Pink Floyd and darker bands such as Anathema, and for once I think I got it right as I still feel that today all these years later. The quartet of Mariusz Duda (vocals, bass), Piotr Grudzinski (guitar (R.I.P.)), Piotr Kozieradzki (drums) and Jacek Melnicki (keyboards) created something very special indeed which still stands up to scrutiny all these years later.
It is not prog metal, but when the guitars come in they kick really hard. With the lyrics in English this is an album that is accessible yet at the same time is darkly complex: there is a passion and presence that is sadly missing from many prog bands. This is not music that has been created to be listened to in a sterile environment, this is prog designed to be taken out on the road and performed in front of a sweaty baying audience. It is prog that mixes and melds, never forgetting that rock is a key element of what they are doing. Yes, there is room for acoustic guitars, but there is also room for Marshalls turned up to twelve, but even when this is happening it is not about bludgeoning the audience into submission, but rather using it as part of another dramatic effect. The remastering allows the definition and separation of the instruments to really shine through.
In 2004 I said it was one of the finest progressive rock albums I had ever heard come out of Poland, and in 2021 I still feel exactly the same way.