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Riverside - Wasteland Award winner

Riverside
Wasteland
by Martin Knap at 14 October 2018, 10:57 PM

RIVERSIDE have by now established themselves as darlings of the Prog-Rock world, and “Wasteland” was a highly anticipated Prog album. I’ve discovered the band pretty much only through their last release “Love, Fear and the Time Machine” and as a fan of PORCUPINE TREE, I was immediately drawn to it. The band’s strengths are pretty much the same as that of PORCUPINE TREE or STEVEN WILSON I would say, namely that they are able to write music that has elements of both “nerdy” Prog and just straight up emotional Pop and Rock. As fans of the band may know the band was struck by a tragedy – the loss of one of their original members Piotr Grudzinsky – before the recording of “Wasteland” started and this is certainly reflected on the album, as it is probably the rawest and emotional works that I heard.

The album opens with Mariusz Duda singing – with almost no instrumental backing – an elegy or a lament. The heavy, sinister tones of the song “Acid Rain” end this beautiful, hypnotic chant abruptly. The dark tone of the verse shifts to a more tender one in the chorus, which has a great hook. The six minute long song also has an extended instrumental section that sounds almost joyous compared to where the song started. Right off the bat you can tell that the band can write songs that flow well, have interesting arrangements and development between different sections. “The Vale of Tears” hooks you right away with a rhythmic chugging riff and catchy vocal melody in the verse, the soft, melancholic chorus that contrasts sharply with the verse. There is a great Proggy bridge with a Hammond organ and the guitar playing each other off, after which comes a heavy, you could say head-bang-able part.

I want to mention the ballad “Guardian Angel” because it shows the versatility of the band that can write songs with big melodies but also very intimate, emotional songs. It is just Duda’s almost whispered vocals, an acoustic guitar, simple piano and guitar melodies, and the result is beautiful. “Lament” is also a short, simple, emotional Rock song, but right after that we get a nine and a half minutes long instrumental piece “The Struggle For Survival” that any fan of old school Prog will love – talk about versatility. The eight and a half minute long, quasi instrumental title song “Wasteland” is also all that a Prog enthusiast can ask for: a mellow, atmospheric section shifts abruptly to a part with heavy, sinister Psych Rock riffs, after which some joyous guitar melodies dispel the anger and darkness. The album closes with another touching piano-and-vocal ballad “The Day Before”. It should be noted that the opening track’s title is “The Day Before” and it does refer to the apocalyptic theme of the album, but also symbolically (as Duda has stated) to the death of Piotr Grudzinsky.

For me this album surpasses their previous one: it is more versatile, sharp and emotional. And that is really all I ask for from a band like RIVERSIDE.

Songwriting: 10
Memorability: 10
Originality: 9
Production: 9

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Day After
2. Acid Rain Part I. Where Are We Now?
3. Acid Rain Part II. Dancing Ghosts
4. Vale Of Tears
5. Guardian Angel
7. Lament
8. The Struggle for Survival Part I. Dystopia
9. The Struggle for Survival Part II. Battle Royale
10. River Down Below
11. Wasteland
12. The Night Before
Lineup:
Mariusz Duda - Vocals, Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Piccolo Bass, Banjo
Michał Łapaj - Keyboards & Synthesizers, Rhodes Piano & Hammond Organ
Piotr Kozieradzki – Drums
Record Label: Inside Out Music
     


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Edited 06 June 2020
 

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