|The story of Riverside began in Piotr Kozieradzki's car while he was travelling with Piotr Grudziñski. An idea was born in their heads to play neoprogressive music. This idea later materialized in the form of a new band - Riverside. At that time, Grudziñski was playing the guitar in a metal outfit Unnamed, while Kozieradzki was playing drums in death metal bands Hate and Domain. To the surprise of Grudziñski, "Clutching at straws", a song by a neoprogressive group Marillion, was being played through Mittloff's car speakers. It turned out that they were both interested in progressive music and would both like to have a try in this genre. A suggestion to meet at a rehearsal was put forward and it came off some months later, in late 2001.
Another person that took part in that rehearsal was Jacek Melnicki - a keyboard player that owned his own recording studio. That first jam session was allegedly not too inspiring but the second one changed everything. Melnicki brought in a new musician - bass player Mariusz Duda. From this point, the newly-founded project was a quartet what is even more important, during one of the rehearsals that followed Mariusz revealed his vocal talents. The other musicians liked his vocal improvisations used in then-still-instrumental early musical sketches and Mariusz became simultaneously a singer and a bass player.
Mariusz Duda was the last part of a jigsaw that completed the first line-up of the band. He did not need much time to prove how valuable he become to this new band. The moment he started to sing, it was obvious that he become a very important member of the band. Being a singer and a bass player, he would soon find himself to be the focal point of the band and its leader on stage. Before joining Riverside, Duda had already been a versatile musician. Apart from the bass guitar, which he played proficiently, he could also play keyboards and the guitar. I play several instruments but the two I love the most are the acoustic and the bass guitar - he told a journalist from „Mystic Art" magazine - I compose using an acoustic guitar. In the band I play the bass because I love the rhythm. This instrument has also other advantages according to Mariusz: depending on musical genre and the song's overall mood, the bass can be used in many different ways, e.g. it can control the whole situation.
The musician explained his versatility and his choice of the bass guitar in one of the interviews:I was never able to concentrate on just one instrument. I was always more focused on composing than on perfecting my playing skills on any of the instruments I was playing. Over time, it turned out that I had the biggest confidence when playing the bass guitar. I liked Geddy Lee's or John Wetton's playing.
Duda, as befits a searching artist, listened to a wide variety of musical genres and as he admitted: restricting myself to one musical style would be unthinkable. That is probably why progressive rock was the most important genre for him - a genre with hardly any limitation. On the list of his favourite albums, we can find highlights of progressive rock's history. When asked about his favourite albums, Mariusz lists the works of 70s giants Genesis and Yes, neoprogressive seminal band Marillion as well as the most important band of modern progressive music - Porcupine Tree. Apart from these, he also mentions albums by Tangerine Dream, Pain Of Salvation, Dead Can Dance and Vangelis, which serves as a proof of his extensive musical search.
When looking into interviews with Mariusz one may come to a conclusion that singing is somewhere at the very end of the list of his musical interests, dimmed by composing and playing the instruments. In an interview conducted by Maciej Stankiewicz from Mystic Art in 2004 Mariusz explained:singing? It always comes just like that and it doesn't matter whether I sing at the particular time. I've been singing for about 10 years now but it was in Riverside that I learned how to use my voice properly. I never had any vocal lessons. But it is the vocal that became one of the most impressive parts of the band's compositions, a crowd-pleaser, its distinctive feature. High vocal abilities of the singer were clearly heard as early as on the first demo. Duda could easily generate anxiety, create an overall climate or simply, without any needles ornaments, tell a story. Delicate melodic singing was just as easy for him as strong, metal-style roar.
It is worth mentioning that Duda is the only member of Riverside with any progressive past. In the 90s he was a member of Wêgorzewo-based progressive band Xanadu (an album "Wczorajsze Ślady" from 1996) in which he was a keyboardist. He reflects on that period: It was a great school of playing the instrument and working in a band.This band from Wêgorzewo never really took off and its rarely available recordings have become a sort of curiosity among Riverside fans.
Piotr „Grudzieñ" Grudziñski was already an established guitar player at the time of founding Riverside. For ten years he was the guitar player in Warsaw-based metal band Unnamed. Despite not achieving any spectacular success, this band released two LP's - "Id" and "Duality", which gained them some respect among the metal community. Unnamed played music that can be classified as doom/death metal.
Perhaps he would still be a member of that band if it wasn't for his desire to search through new musical areas. This search drew him away from metal, which he described in 2003 with these words: I've never been attracted by its brutal side. I've always been searching for melody, climate, space and this sense of mystery and eventually witch I came across when listening to Anathema. Each and every of their albums is a trip through melancholic wilderness, every sound drips with emotions - and added - I've been always searching for sounds that can go straight to your heart. That's why I've always admired David Gilmour who always hits the spot with only a few sounds.
Grudziñski, with his metal verve and his desire to search for emotions, was an amazing candidate for a modern style prog guitarist. He began using his potential in Riverside from the very beginning. His skillful play with emotions could be easily heard as early as on their first demo. Hypnotic riffs on one hand, crunchy metal licks on the other, all spiced up with beautiful gilmourish melodies and solos. Piotr explained the diversity of his guitar's sound this way: the reason for this is that people are obviously touched by different emotions, both positive and negative. We want to express beauty as well as darkness, harmony and anxiety.
The list of Grudzieñ's favorite albums is long and, similarly to Duda, it shows a wide variety of his interests. The first spot goes obviously to Anathema, which followed a similar path to Grudziñski - from metal to atmospheric rock. Piotr mentioned some bands from outside the progressive genre - Dead Cam Dance, Depeche Mode, Cocteau Twins and Seal. The list would not have been complete without records by Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree and Pain Of Salvation. Piotr also mentioned Marillion's "Fugazi".
From the very start, Grudzieñ was positive about the new challenge:Riverside is by all means a full-time band and to be honest, I have high expectations for it. I believe it's a band that I've always wanted to be a part of, where I can fully realize myself and learn a lot. It's hard not to believe those words when you see the satisfaction he gets while performing live. Grudziñski feels at home with Riverside's fusion of art rock and prog metal.
Piotr 'Mittloff' Kozieradzki is a well-known and respected figure in the world of death metal. Long before founding Riverside, Mittloff earned his reputation as a gifted drummer. In early 90s in Warsaw he founded Hate - a death metal band. Later he joined Domain - a group from £ódź playing similar style of music. He was a member of both those bands in the 90s and at the beginning of the 21st century. He worked with Domain for a short time still after founding Riverside.
Kozieradzki was always interested in heavier sounds. It did not prevent him, though, from discovering Marillion back in the 80s. It became his favourite band and their 1994 album Brave had for a long time „no competition", according to his words. And so, while he listened to Slayer, his soul fell in love with progressive music. Apart from Marillion, Piotr was also very much into heavier prog - Dream Theater, Pain Of Salvation and Porcupine Tree.
Hate drummer hardly ever spoke about his inspirations and few knew about his love for Marillion. However, it was in Mittloff's car that the idea for Riverside originated. Right after my first conversation with Grudzieñ about the band I knew that was it - he says about that memorable drive with Grudzieñ and after a while he adds:after our first rehearsal with Mariusz I knew that it would be the only band which I would be 100% in. And so it happened. In 2003 the only band Piotr Kozieradzki was still a member of was Riverside - a band fulfilling all his dreams:It's the first band in which I feel I'm alive. It has all that my previous bands lacked. Cool music, climate, the people and overall involvement not just on my part.
The change of musical genre obviously influenced also Mittloff's playing style. In a progressive band there is no place for the tempo and aggression present in death metal. Kozieradzki slowed down, he concentrated on his technique and varied emotions. However, that doesn't mean he got rid of all his metal characteristics. There was no need for it as his playing style fitted perfectly in Riverside's somewhat progmetal sound. This change was good for him as he admitted in one of the interviews that: it's only now that I really started to play.
In 2002 Kozieradzki, Grudziñski, Duda and Melnicki, already as Riverside, made their first serious steps. They performed live twice with their own material and in October they entered the studio to record a promotional demo. It was released in March and it gained a lot of attention in the music industry.
Riverside PROMODemo, entitled Riverside, was the quartet's first sign of future success. The record contained 5 compositions - "The Same River", "Out Of Myself", "Reality Dream", "Loosing Heart" and "The Curtain Falls". The tracks served as an early example of the band's already big potential. They marked their wide musical territory clearly stating what might be expected from the band. They revealed their inspirations and at the same time declared their desire to look for innovation and develop the band's own style.
300 copies of the demo were gone almost immediately. The band sent them to radio stations and record labels but the bulk of it was given to their friends and the audience that came to their spring show in Kopalnia club in March 2003. Then the music spread thanks to cd-recording devices. The demand for their music grew bigger and so it was time to record the first full album.
News of a fresh, promising band spread. Metal Center was one of the first to discover their potential. They published a review of the demo recordings in which they wrote: I would be very confused if this record wasn't known outside this country very soon… and I want more! This music is addictive.The band itself was sure there was a demand for rock music with climate and metal verve. They had to write more songs and go back to the studio to record their first proper LP.
Despite having six finished songs (five used on the demo + "Reality Dream II") and almost 45 minutes worth of music, the band had to work hard on their recordings. The LP didn't see the light of day until December 2003. At that point it was clear that only three musicians were fully involved in the group's work. Keyboard player Jacek Melnicki was not able to devote the amount of time needed and it became obvious that the first personal changes were ahead.
Out Of MyselfThe LP was recorded with the old line-up but in a new studio with Magda and Robert Srzednicki mixing all the tracks, including the ones from the demo CD. New compositions - "In Two Minds", "I Believe" and "OK" balanced the album and showed a more delicate and acoustic side of Riverside. The debut album, eventually entitled Out Of Myself, was released as a concept-album, as it was decided by Mariusz Duda who wrote all the lyrics.
"Out Of Myself" was surprisingly mature and coherent. Members of the band were of course no beginners but it should be noted that only Mariusz Duda had anything in common with art rock and progressive rock before. Therefore, in a sense, "Out Of Myself" was a debut for Kozieradzki, Grudziñski and Melnicki. Nevertheless, the album is not a collection of random tunes. This CD from the very start up to its final seconds tells a story, both in the lyrical and musical sphere.
Lyrical concept was created by Mariusz Duda. It tells a story about human struggle, his failure and subsequent attempt at coming back to life in a society. "The Same River" is an attempt at coming back to the same life again. In the last song - "OK" - the character in a sense comes to terms with himself. Duda points out an excerpt from the text: there's sadness in my mind, ok, which serves as a declaration of accepting one's own sadness.
Lyrical coherence was easier to achieve as it was the singer who wrote all the lyrics alone, but musical coherence had to be achieved by all four members of the band and the success was not all that easy and obvious. It is one thing to write eight good songs, but writing them so that they fit like eight parts of the same story is another thing. Riverside succeeded even though at that point they've been a band for slightly over a year.
Another success was taming their own musical inspirations which, although heard on "Out Of Myself", are not brazen enough to accuse the band of ripping off other bands. Certain names of other bands appeared in the reviews: Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, Anathema, Marillion or even Dream Theater, Tool and Pain Of Salvation. All those names are more or less appropriate when describing Riverside's music but the crucial thing is that the quartet headed for their own unique sound from the very start.
When listening to "Out Of Myself" it is hard not to believe Mariusz Duda, who said in an interview for Mystic Art: from the start we decided that we would try to distance ourselves from certain hackneyed patterns, that we would ignore our inspirations from the bands that every new progressive rock musician tries to copy. And even though in another interview he said about "The Same River": We know that we play something that's been played before - it's still subtle enough not to spoil the sincere pleasure of listening.
The reception the CD got exceeded any expectations. The album sold very well for a non-mainstream genre and the reviewers were almost unanimous in their positive opinions on the release. "Rzeczpospolita's" reviewer announced: progressive rock is alive! We have a brilliant Polish debut. Then he pointed out the band's versatility: Riverside can record a great ballad ("I Believe"), heavy-rhythm track in Dream Theater's style ("Out Of Myself" and "Reality Dream") as well as a complex composition built around a great melody ("The Curtain Falls"). "Teraz Rock's" journalist was no exception giving "Out Of Myself" 4 out of 5 stars and writing: what we have here is a promising piece of music, certainly interesting for every fan of Pink Floyd or Purcupine Tree. There were many more positive reviews, from those saying about hope for the future, to those already putting the band at the artistic top. Without a doubt, it was a success.
The band knew that they should embark on a tour in order to promote the record properly. Those plans, however, had to be put off because right after the release of "Out Of Myself" the group had to find a new keyboard player.
In 1999 Jacek Melnicki opened a recording studio DBX and despite good perspectives for the band, it was the studio and its proper functioning that was still a priority for Melnicki. On the other hand, the group required more and more time and involvement. It was no longer possible to divide the time between the studio and the band in a way that would keep everyone happy. A replacement had to be found. The vacancy was soon taken by young and talented Micha³ £apaj.
Micha³ and his new band quickly started speaking the same language, although Micha³ admitted to be sceptical at first: When I got the CD from Grudzieñ with an offer to join I thought: another project, another bunch of guys with 'huge' ambitions and fantastic ideas for the future. But when I listened to the album I had no more doubts. I just had to be in that band.
The line-up change went smoothly. Micha³ turned out to be the right person in the right place. Young, not as experienced as Grudzieñ or Mittloff, but with strong desire to succeed, full of faith in music and, obviously, very talented. He used to play a C flute and attend classes in The Institute Of Organ Playing. From his early years, he was much into music which was very much present at his home. The organs were his favourite instrument. Among his favourite artists he mentions Genesis, Yes and Deep Purple and number one on the list is his idol Jon Lord, to who he attributes inspiring his love for the organs.
Micha³ quickly understood that Riverside was his way to the top. "Out Of Myself", which he got from Grudzieñ, made a huge impression on him. Nevertheless, it was only after his first rehearsals with the band, during which it appeared that they shared mutual understanding, that he could happily admit: I finally have a great band! Although I haven't played with them for too long yet, I feel like we've been doing this for years. Riverside is the aim of my perennial pursuit. A river of ideas from which I fish out sounds that make my soul happy. It is my place in music.
The new member of the band quickly learned their songs and by the beginning of March the group was ready to play their first gigs. During their two concerts at Warsaw club "Progresja", they were applauded by more than 500 people which is a very good number for club gigs. One of the shows played in March was reviewed by a reporter from rockmetal.pl: I think nobody expected such an amazing performance. The four musicians played some wonderful, truly beautiful and sometimes calm tunes that had their whole hearts put into. This music is a true poetry inspired by Pink Floyd, Marillion, Porcupine Tree and some progmetal bands. Fantastic musical landscapes, brilliant keys and marvellous guitar parts - I'm trully speechless, it was amazing. Of course, the audience welcomed them warmly and didn't hesitate to cheer and clap their hands.
Another gig took place in "Kolor" club in Wroclaw on March 27. From that evening, the capital city of Lower Silesia became the band's second home for a long time. The reception was great. A reporter of artrock.pl wrote about that evening: The reaction for the first track exceeded my expectations. Euphoria. Chanting the band's name. And it stayed this way until the end, it didn't matter whether they played tracks from "Out Of Myself" or newer compositions. Many people knew the lyrics and sang with Mariusz, one of the examples being the single "Loose Heart" or the title track from the debut album.
The band promoted "Out Of Myself" during two countrywide tours called "Progressive Tour". The first of those took place in spring, and the second in autumn 2004. The band played over 20 gigs in the biggest cities, the concerts usually taking place in small clubs for 300 or 400 people. This was also a success, as it needs to be remembered that hardly any Polish progressive band is able to play regular tours. Another big moment for the band was the opportunity to open for Anathema in Bydgoszcz (club "Kuźnia").
Wroclaw was one of the cities that hosted the band both in May and in October. The gig in autumn was especially unforgettable thanks to its atmosphere. The audience that filled the "Diabolique" club liked the music so much that they requested four encores from the band. Duda, Kozieradzki, Grudziñski and £apaj played for over 90 minutes until they simply ran out of songs. So, for the 4th encore, the band played "Out Of Myself" for the second time that evening. It is worth mentioning that apart from their own songs, the band performed a cover of Porcupine Tree's "Radioactive Toy".
It was obvious from the start that if the band wanted to survive, it had to attract attention in Western Europe and America. Even the best band may not survive playing this kind of music only in Poland. About nine months after its Polish premiere, on September 21, 2004 "Out Of Myself" was released worldwide under the Laser's Edge music label. Positive reviews in the foreign music press encouraged the band to set up a small tour outside Poland.
The second album was first planned for early 2005. Unfortunately, the reality was slightly different. The band needed more time to write new songs. The musicians knew how high they set the standards with their debut. The follow up to "Out Of Myself" had to be at least equally good, but different at the same time so that the band would not be accused of copying their own ideas. In the meantime, Mariusz Duda came up with an idea to continue the story told on "Out Of Myself". We could hear the first declarations - the second album was to show the heavier side of the band and continue the lyrical concept of the first album. It was also decided that the debut album as well as its follow up would be a part of a trilogy called "Reality Dream". The second album was to be released in autumn 2005.
Voices In My HeadThe band, thinking mainly about its fanclub members (the fanclub named "Voices In My Head" was established in autumn 2004) released in March 2005 an EP "Voices In My Head". It was supposed to keep the interest in the band alive and make the long wait for the new album more bearable for the fans. At first it meant to be only a limited CD for fanclub members. Eventually, it was also available in music shops, which was a good move as the almost 40 minute release was full of interesting sounds. Apart from three live versions of the songs known from the debut album, "Voices In My Head" also contained five new compositions.
"Voices In My Head" contains the effects of studio work from January and February 2005. It is, however, not fully representative for the band as it shows the more mellow side of Riverside. Only three of the tracks made it to the live shows ("Us", "The Time I Was Daydreaming" played as a five-piece with an additional bass player and "Acronym Love") and only one track contains any live drums by Mittloff. But, on the other hand, you cannot say that these songs lack subtlety, character and charm. Composing a track like "Dna ts. Rednum Or F. Raf", the band showed a lot of creativity and guts.
Three live recordings were also a special treat for the fans. Those were: "I Believe" played differently to the studio version, along with "Out Of Myself" and "Loose Heart". They were recorded in "Traffic Club", Warsaw in May 2004 and show the band in great shape. "VIMH" is important also because it was a studio debut for the new line-up of the band. Micha³ did a great job live but it was still unknown whether he would be equally great in the studio. However, Micha³ proved to be a valuable member of the band, which can be easily heard especially on "Acronym Love" - a track full of piano and keyboards.
The reviewer from "Teraz Rock" was especially fond of "Dna ts. Rednum Or F. Raf" and he was by far not alone in his opinion. He wrote that: "Dna ts. Rednum Or F. Raf" attracts attention with its electronic background, oriental sound and tempo changes. It's the most interesting track and it shows that we can expect uncovering some new musical areas by the band. Fans were intrigued by the track's mysterious title which, at first, seems to contain only some letters randomly put together. However, it is a mirror image of the phrase "Far From Understand" with some additional punctuation.
In early April 2005, the group played three warm-up gigs in Poland (Cracow, Warsaw and Wroclaw) and headed for the Western Europe. Duda, Grudziñski, Kozieradzki and £apaj played two shows in: the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany and one in France and Switzerland. That first European tour was the best proof that the popularity of Riverside crossed Poland's boarders and that there was a chance to make Europe interested in Polish prog scene.
The string of good luck was still with the band. In July Riverside signed a two-record deal with InsideOut - a large record label specialising in prog music. Thanks to this move, the band no longer had to worry about releasing their second album worldwide, its promotion or subsequent tours. Riverside was soon to be listed in InsideOut's catalogue along with Neal Morse, Spocks Beard, Paatos, Pain Of Salvation, Steve Hackett and Flower Kings. Members of the band didn't hide the fact that they felt some pressure but, on the other hand, it seems that they dealt with it pretty well. In December, in an interview preceding the release of the second album, Piotr Grudziñski said: The pressure is really huge. None of us ever expected that "Out Of Myself" would be so successful. Now it's a really hard task to maintain the same level, surprise and prove that "Out Of Myself" was not a one-off thing. Mariusz Duda was of similar opinion: We feel the pressure because we know that it's a crucial moment in our careers. Either we prove this album that we are an original band that has something to say thanks to our music, or we don't.
After coming back from the European tour, the band had to face the task of recording the second album. They had, however, the right to feel comfortable as they had already played live some of the new songs. During their live shows they were already performing new compositions, such as a part of a new suite (later it became the first part of "Second Life Syndrome" track) and "Volte Face". The sound of those new tracks backed up Duda's words that the new album would be heavier. Another new track, Reality Dream III, was also a staple of live shows so it seemed that the bulk of new songs was already composed. In an interview in September, Micha³ £apaj admitted: Before entering the studio, we had about 90% of material ready. All we had to do was to add some loops and samples into those songs.
Second Life SyndromeRiverside entered the Serakos studio in July and wrapped up their work by the end of August. The effects of their work were handed to Mr. And Mrs. Srzednicki who produced the album and Jacek Gaw³owski who took care of the mastering. Worth mentioning is the fact that the cover for this album was created by Travis Smith who previously worked with bands like Anathema, Opeth or Katatonia. The recording and production of the album went without any problems so the new record, eventually titled "Second Life Syndrome", was released in early autumn 2005. First copies were delivered to fanclub members on October 31. The record was released by InsideOut at the same time all over the world.
While listening to this album one can witness two opposite poles of the band's style. Delicacy, melody and subtle solos on the one hand („Conceiving You", „I Turned You Down"), and aggression, darkness and a truly metal heaviness on the other („Artificial Smile", „Dance With The Shadow"). The band, however, reached their height when the musicians managed to find an ideal balance between those opposites in the title track. It is this over 15-minute track that defines Riverside's style and it is hard to say whether it is still art-rock or already prog-metal.
It was this long suite that contained most characteristic features of the band. We have beautiful guitar and keyboard melodies, we have aggression, delicacy, subtlety, long solo passages, a great and melodic chorus as well as the concluding instrumental part. Is it even possible to join all those things? Well, for Riverside it is.
The reviews were once again very positive. £ukasz Wiewiór wrote for "Teraz Rock": On "Second Life Syndrome" the guys rock hard like never before, of course within the progressive rock style. It took them some time to gather up as the expectations were quite big. The result is a record that's much heavier than "Out Of Myself" and equally good. The record earned 4 stars.
The reviewer from Mystic Art also wrote a warm and positive review: It's an album that's a pure pleasure to listen to. This music relaxes the listeners blissfully and eases their minds (…) then it hits it more dynamically (…) the whole thing sounds brilliant. It's a record that the whole Polish music industry should be proud of. If someone still had any doubt after such an enthusiastic review, the final grade said it all - 10 out of 10. Equally positive were the reviews in the foreign rock and metal press. The Germans and the Dutch were especially eager to write about "Second Life Syndrome".
The listeners' appetite was extremely whetted but surprisingly, the band planned only one Polish gig in 2005, concentrating on festivals abroad. The only promotional gig took place on 17 November in Poznañ's Zeppelin Hall and gathered around 800 people. This number included fans from all over the country, as aside from the locals, the gig was also witnessed among others by a large group of fans from Wroc³aw and by many fans from Warsaw, who came to Poznañ in a hired bus. It was worth it as the band played for over two hours that evening and, although it was the first gig after a longer break, it proved the band's constant development.
The gig was great according to Bartosz Donarski from "Mystic Art", who wrote in his review: The concert was a show of four actors with a natural talent. It was a natural joy of playing and meeting their fans. But the most crucial thing is that the music I knew from the records worked great live. As I was leaving Zeppelin Hall I thought that it was one of those moments that serve as a reward for someone working in music. A proof that music has a deeper meaning.
Polish music press and the listeners praised the band for its work in 2005. As much as five journalists from "Metal Hammer" mentioned "Second Life Syndrome" in their lists of 10 best records of the year. Even more gracious were the readers of "Teraz Rock" who put the band in top 10 in five different categories. Mariusz Duda was placed seventh among the best Polish singers, Piotr Grudziñski was ninth among instrumentalists, "Conceiving You" was named the sixth best hit and the band itself got the second spot in the Band Of The Year category (leaving behind such popular bands as Myslovitz and Kult!) Apart from that, the band won an award for the biggest hope for the future (defeating Coma, among others). Mariusz, Grudzieñ, Mittloff and Micha³ had every right to feel satisfied.
For those who were not able to see the band in Poznañ, Riverside announced a big tour scheduled for April 2006. The band planned to visit Polish cities (e.g. Wroc³aw, Cracow, Gdañsk) in the first half of the month before embarking on a European tour in the second half of April. As usual, the band had shows scheduled in Germany and Benelux, but also for the first time the band visited Madrid, Paris and Nitra (in Slovakia). "Second Life Syndrome Tour" ended with a gig in Proxima, Warsaw in early May. Thanks to an agreement with Empik (Polish commercial chain selling books and media products), the band was able to meet their fans and sign autographs before the shows.
During the tour, Riverside played a varied set of songs that usually lasted for about 2 hours. The opening song was a five minute instrumental piece titled "Back To The River" which included some bits taken from Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". The rest of the show, however, was filled with the group's original compositions known from the band's three releases. Almost the entire debut album was played with only "In Two Minds" left out. Also the long-absent "OK" made it back to the setlist. "Second Life Syndrome" was represented by six or seven compositions. The only thing played from "Voices In My Head" was, as usual, "Acronym Love". "Volte Face" was omitted, which was a surprise, as this track is considered to be one of the strongest moments of the second album. But the listeners that attended those gigs in April and May had nothing to complain about. The sound was better than ever, so was the lightning that supplemented the songs and emphasized their climate.
This tour concluded with a show in Proxima on May 7, but it was not the last show that year. Only three weeks later the band started a series of open-air European festivals playing, among other places, at Tiana Prog Fest in Barcelona, Arrow Rock Festival in Lichtenvoorde (the Netherlands) where they performed alongside big artists like Roger Waters, Porcupine Tree, DIO, Deep Purple and Status Quo, and at Castle Party in Bolków. The most important gig, however, took place in USA, where the band played for the first time. On June 24 Riverside was one of the bands playing at the prestigious Nearfest Festival. On this day both the musicians and the organisers could finally say "all is not lost that is delayed" as the band had been invited to play a year before but some problems with obtaining visas had then prevented the band from debuting in America.
Autumn 2006 was also filled with live shows. Between September 14 and October 3, the band played a short tour called ProgmetalFest (along with Vanden Plas and Aurora Project). The tour included seven gigs in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Polish fans got the band back in October when a second leg of Polish "Second Life Syndrome Tour" took place. The setlist was slightly different from the spring one. "OK", "Reality Dream I" and "Before" were dropped and "Volte Face" made it back into the setlists.
The musicians started working on their third LP in late 2006. In March, during a gig in Zabrze, they were able to play early versions of some of the new tracks. Various news about the record would reach the fans from time to time. In January it was revealed that the last part of "Reality Dream" trilogy would be entitled "Rapid Eye Movement". The first recording session took place in March, and as Mittloff explains, it was the dreamy part of the record that was recorded during that session. The heavier part was recorded in April. The album was recorded in Serakos Studio in Warsaw and in Toya Studio in £ódź. "R.E.M" was due to be released in September.
02 Panic Room CDSTwo releases were prepared to make the wait more bearable for the fans. The first of them was given to fanclub members in March and contained a DVD of the entire show played in Den Bosch on 20.04.2006. The second one was a single from the forthcoming third album. It contained two versions of "02 Panic Room", "Lucid Dream IV" and "Back To The River", previously played during live shows. The single reached the stores on June 15. At that time, Riverside was playing a small tour as a special guests of prog metal icons Dream Theater on their "Chaos In Motion" tour.
Chaos In Motion Tour
Seven times did Riverside open for Dream Theater. Sharing the stage with such a great band was both a reward for Riverside and a big challenge, as well as a chance for further development of the quartet. It's a huge chance for us to reach more people - said Mariusz - thanks to this tour, our dreams became a bit more real. Ten years ago, Dream Theater was a big band for us. Their albums "Images & Words" and "Awake" were like some sort of bibles of prog for us. Being with them on a tour now is a great thing and we will do our best to be great partners for them.. I believe we can do it. And although their first joint gig in Katowice wasn't really perfect, the next shows in Berlin, Esch and Bonn earned them many warm reviews.
In July the band played at some festivals in Germany and Turkey and in August, thanks to a radio journalist Piotr Kosiñski, a large portion of the band's new music saw the light of day. In his programme called "Noc muzycznych Pejza¿y", Kosiñski presented three new compositions from the forthcoming album - "Parasomnia", "Embryonic" and "Through The Other Side". The band spent the whole September preparing for a big Polish promotional tour.
Rapid Eye Movement"Rapid Eye Movement" was released in Poland on September 24 by Mystic Production. InsideOut released the record in Europe and The States on Sptember 28 and October 9 respectively as a double CD.
Journalists and fans were curious why a double cd version was released and why was not it available in Poland. Mariusz explained the story behind this somehow strange publishing policy in one of the interviews: The plan was like this - in Poland we're releasing "02 Panic Room" as a single with some additional tracks, and outside Poland those tracks are included on a double CD version of the record. InsideOut is famous for releasing albums in various different versions, including limited editions with additional music. They wanted something more than just tracks from the single that, let's be honest, everyone can download from the internet. Initially we wanted to include some videos there, but we abandoned this idea. We had two unfinished tracks from the recording sessions. When we finished and recorded them, they turned out to be quite decent tunes. Those two last-minute tracks were "Behind The Eyelids" and "Rapid Eye Movement".
Only the first CD was a continuation of the trilogy and the compositions included on it was divided into two parts: "Fearland" and "Fearless".
"Rapid Eye Movement" is a continuation of the band's musical and lyrical journey known from two previous releases but it does not mean there were no changes introduced. What improved the most was the sound of the record. The musicians agreed that the production of the album was better than ever. The most prominent musical difference is in Grudzieñ's guitar playing. He uses his instrument more for heavy riffing than for solos and nice melodies. Another novelty was the introduction of some psychedelic and trance elements. Also the acoustic guitar returned to favour and appeared in two compositions.
The band presented music slightly different from its previous albums but still in the same style. Mariusz explained the band's consistency and careful experimenting with the example of matches: Imagine you have a box of matches. Each match is a different musical element. Your task is to stick with these 50 or 48 schemes, blend them and experiment with them in any way you like but without stepping out of certain frames. Then you have a chance to create something coherent. Unlimited experimenting may cause that you will never create your own style.
Although the album is a part of a trilogy, it has its own main themes - dualism and sleep. According to the author of the lyrics, the key track not only on this record but also in the whole trilogy is "Parasomnia": It deals with this record's crucial issue - the dualism of each of us. In this track, the second "self" takes over the first one. So called 'Mr. Hyde' shows up - a dark side of our hero who supposedly did something bad. Who knows, maybe it was this dreadful event, which I didn't want to fully explain, that led him to close inside his own shell.
The character comes into a surprising conclusion. In "02 Panic Room" he recalls the time of his loneliness known from the first album. In "Embryonic" he wishes he could go back to his solitude. Finally, at the end of "Ultimate Trip" which is the last song of the album, we hear the same radio noise that appeared at the beginning of "The Same River". Thus, the story came full circle and the characted returned to the starting point.
In August, almost a month before its release date, the album leaked into the internet. When it finally reached the stores, the reviews were for the first time mixed. Most of them were positive or enthusiastic but this time Riverside's new music brought them some words of criticism. One of two disappointed reviewers from artrock.pl used these words to express his discontent: The first reason is the climate. You can't step into the same river twice, especially if it became too deep or the water is not fresh anymore. There's something wrong about music, too. Even though it's played flawlessly and the sound is great, the whole thing doesn't make a good impression. This flawless playing seems to lack any inspiration, enthusiasm or joy. There isn't a single composition that would move me in any way. They come through one ear and out the other.
But at the same time a completely different review could be found at the same portal. In his review of "REM", Mariusz Danielak wrote: It's classic Riverside style and it proves that the band indeed has its own style. Perhaps "REM" is the least accessible of all their albums but I can guarantee that it's only the surface. If you spend some time listening to this album, you'll discover its real beauty and the outstanding (maybe even the band's best) melodies. A reviewer from "Teraz Rock" was of similar opinion giving the album 4 out of 5 stars and writing: "REM" is singly a continuation of two previous albums. The production is clearer than before. A greater variety in the use of the keyboard is positive, though not surprising. The band is simply still in great shape. It is their new and great album. And that's it.
Piotr Miecznikowski from „Mystic Art." wrote: The overall style is still the same but you can hear in the new compositions that the band grew bigger wings. It's dynamic and gentle at the same time and it's not very often that a band is able to find this balance. Riverside has already scored more than hundreds of other bands but after listening to "REM" it becomes clear that it is only the beginning and that these people can achieve much more!
Outside Poland, the reviews were usually more favourable. The Dutch and the Germans were very optimistic in their opinions and often placed "REM" among the best albums of 2007.
Facing some criticism for the first time, the musicians did not bury their heads in the sand. Piotr Grudziñski defended the new album deftly in an interview for Radioaktywny, addressing mainly those people who claimed that the album lacked innovation: I believe this record is a good ending of the trilogy. We wanted all the those albums to have much in common - he reminded - Because it is a trilogy, we couldn't and we didn't want to record something that would be totally different. Mittloff considered this division into those pro and against the new album as something normal: Polarization is something natural, I believe. Usually the listeners divide into those pro and against - said the drummer in an interview for "Mystic Art" - We think that on this album we give our fans everything that they love us for and something extra that they might love as well. All you have to do is to dedicate some time to this album.
Mariusz Duda was also calm about the whole situation: we're already at this stage when you can't please everyone. From now on, there will always be some division among fans.
The reaction of the general public proved the band was right. A week after its release, "Rapid Eye Movement" debuted at 23. spot on OliS - the list of Poland's top-selling albums and reached number 2 a week later! It became clear that the band achieved a higher level, that its music would now reach a broader audience. It was confirmed during the Polish Tour in September and October. The 16-date tour gathered the biggest audiences till that time and changed the opinion of many dissatisfied with the new album. "Beyond The Eyelids" instantly became the show opener while "Panic Room" and "Ultimate Trip" captivated the audience and sounded even more powerful than on the album.
Unfortunately, some complications arose along the way. In early October, Duda's vocal chords seized up. The band had to postpone five shows and take a week off. Luckily, after this forced break, everything went back to normal. The group spent November and the first half of December touring abroad. As usual, they played in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, as well as in Skandinavia - Finland, Sweden and Norway. The band also played in London in front of five hundred cheering people.
In December, while Riverside was touring Europe, their first professional video clip had its premiere. It was produced by Inbornmedia crew and promoted "02 Panic Room". Maciej Pawelczyk and Radek Wikiera directed the clip that was shot in October by Jakub Jakielaszek.
The band was still promoting "Rapid Eye Movement" when some questions began to rise, asking "what's next?". Riverside freed themselves from the chains of the trilogy and they could open a completely new "box of matches". Mariusz Duda stated that the band would do everything so that the fourth album was not another part of the "Reality Dream Trilogy" but before that, there was still some time to wrap up that first period in the band's history. In 2008 we want to play a "Reality Dream Tour" recording each and every gig. Then we'll pick something from that tour for a live album or a DVD.
As for new music, the band openly stated that they feel happy to have a completely blank sheet of paper to fill. Duda announced that they would drop some of the characteristics of their previous releases: We will surely not have a three-word title or nine tracks on the record this time - and went even further in his predictions - we might do twelve short numbers not connected anyhow to progressive rock or we might as well record two instrumentals that will irritate all our die-hard fans. We'll do anything we want to do. Surely, this record will be different from those previous ones.
Even these early declarations could easily excite the imagination of fans but there was still a-year-and-a-half worth of waiting before any new music would be presented. Meanwhile, 2008 was to be the year of summaries, short tours and… a debut of Mariusz Duda's side-project. The first to do a summary of 2007 were the readers of "Teraz Rock". After an annual voting, it turned out that Piotr Grudziñski was the best Polish instrumentalist of 2007. Apart from this victory, the band marked its presence in some other categories (e.g. second place in "best band", fourth in "biggest hope for the future". "Rapid Eye Movement" was placed third among the best albums).
At the time when these results were announced, the band was already working for recognition and their listeners' interest in 2008. In early January they wrote a short post scriptum to the "Rapid Eye Movement Tour". Between January 10 and 20, they played in Olsztyn, Lubin, Lublin and Bia³ystok. In March they also reached Poznañ and Zabrze and to have a good kick off into Spring, the band flew to Mexico to play at a respected prog festival Baja Prog.
Schizophrenic PrayerOnly a couple of gigs were played at that time but the fans had no reason to complain about. In February and March, MTV and VH1 played the video clip for "Panic Room" and the single with that composition became golden on March 12. Five days later, another single, "Schozophrenic Prayer" was released. This single was a way of repaying the debt to the Polish audience who, up until that time, had some trouble obtaining the tracks from the second disc of InsideOut's international "REM" release ("Behind The Eyelids", "Rapid Eye Movement"). The single contained the title track in both its original version and a remix, two mentioned compositions from the second disc of "REM" and a new track - "Rainbow Box". As a bonus, the fans got a video for "Panic Room". Over 30 minutes of music, not counting the video.
It's hard not to notice that the "single" tag is a bit misleading and unjust in case of this release. "EP" would suit here better as the album was also well-thought in its character, sound and overall mood. All compositions showed the band's more mysterious and hypnotic side balancing between electronic and trance. I know that some of our fans would like our last album to sound like this - Mariusz commented - the word "hypnotic" is usually associated with this type of spacious sound found in the track "Rapid Eye Movement". On the one hand, I regret that this number along with "Behind The Eyelids" was until now only released abroad because many people here don't know it. On the other hand, I'm glad that Polish fans will finally be able to hear the last year's entire additional recording session.
May was a real treat for all those fans who missed live shows. In mid-May, the band went on a mini-tour across Poland (Gdynia, Bydgoszcz, Piekary, Kraków, £ódź). The most important date was the May 17 gig in Toya Studios in £ódź. It was there that Riverside played their over-two-hour gig that summed up the "Reality Dream Trilogy". It was also recorded for a planned DVD release. About one thousand people gathered in Toya Studios, among them many people from other cities or even countries (there were people from The Netherlands and Germany) and "Voices In My Head" fanclub members who, as usual in case of such special events, did not have to pay for their tickets. The band, as always, rose to the occasion and played a show that was well worth recording and releasing. Apart from the great performance of music known from the band's three big releases, there was also the best lightning in Riverside's history prepared and a couple of screens that showed some special visualisations during the whole gig.
Those who still wanted more after May could see Riverside during summer festivals. The band played in Wêgorzewo and Inowroc³aw, where, for the first time, they played "Rapid Eye Movement", and in Weert (The Netherlands) at Bospop (where Riverside played along such big names as Anathema, Europe, Thin Lizzy, ZZ Top and Opeth). This festival trek lasted until autumn, as in September the band flew over the Ocean to play at ProgPower (USA) and FMPM Festival (Canada).
In the same month, Lunatic Soul - Duda's side project - released its first self-titled album. Duda was recording his first non-Riverside compositions throughout the year with the help from respected musicians - Maciej Meller, Wawrzyniec Dramowicz, Micha³ £apaj and Maciej Szelenbaum. The effect was dark and full of various sounds, often played on unusual instruments, such as kalimba. Moving into more atmospheric sound that resembled the work of Peter Gabriel, Dead Can Dance or Clannad, Riverside's front man created a mysterious and absorbing concept-album about a journey into what is beyond our life. "Lunatic Soul" got very good reviews and it was voted "The Most Interesting Album Of The Year" by the listeners of "Noc Muzycznych Pejza¿y".
Reality DreamThere was no chance, however, for a Lunatic Soul tour as, at least at that point, it was strictly a studio project. But in November there was a new Riverside tour. As usual, the band first gave a couple of shows in Poland (playing, among others, a fantastic show at Radio Wroc³aw) and then headed for Western Europe. The highlight of this tour was a gig in Amsterdam's famous Paradiso Club. The show was broadcast live in the Internet. Those who attended these gigs could purchase the band's first, although limited, live release "Reality Dream". This double CD album contained almost the entire performance from Toya Studios gig played in May (with the exception of "Loose Heart", "Dance with the Shadow", "I Believe" and "Lucid Dream IV").
The November/December "Reality Dream" tour was the final farewell to the trilogy period. In summer, the band had already started working on a new concept and new compositions for their fourth album - "Anno Domini High Definition". In late January 2009, Duda, Kozieradzki, Grudziñski and £apaj hit the studio (this time it was Studio X in Olsztyn) to record this next Riverside album. At the same time, a special new internet site was launched, where the musicians informed their fans every couple of days about the recording process, uploaded some photos and lyric samples from the new album.
While the band worked hard on the new album, fans could buy some more new limited releases. The band decided to pay their respect to the history of music and released their albums ("Out Of Myself" and "Reality Dream") on vinyls. These albums were released by Primal Vinyl Records in January.
In spring 2009, the band played only two gigs. First, on April 26, Riverside performed in Crakow's club "Studio" along with Vader, Jesus Chrysler Suicide and Ketha at a charity concert. We played a charity gig to collect money for medical treatments for Covan from Decapitated - said Mittloff in "Teraz Rock" - I hope it helps him. Each of us (touch wood!) could be in the same situation - he added - We travel a lot (Covan was badly injured in a car crash when his band was coming back from a concert - MN) and who knows what may happen. One of us may need help one day. On that day, the band presented two new compositions from the forthcoming album - "Hyperactive" and "Hybrid Times".
On May 21 Riverside played in Warsaw at Juwenalia (traditional celebration for students). The third planned show had to be canceled. The band was supposed to play at the fourth edition of Konin Art Rock festival, but Mittloff's arm injury made it impossible for them to play. Fans were disappointed but the good news was that the new album was coming very soon.
Anno Domini High DefinitionFans got used to the album's title "Anno Domini High Definition" as it was known as early as mid-2008 that it would be the name of Riverside's fourth full studio release. I was looking for a title that would be connected with modern times, a title that would be up to date and would contain some elements popular these days - said Mariusz in an interview for Interia - So the result is a mixture of High Definition technology and a disorder which, as it turns out, a big part of our bustling society suffers from. Apart from that, I wanted four words as it is our fourth album.
The album was supposed to be a loose concept made up of five compositions, each telling a story about people that try to catch up with the galloping and overactive modern world. Our album is not about TV sets, iPods or modern media but about the rush our civilisation suffers from - Mariusz explained in "Teraz Rock" - It's about the fact that we don't have time for anything and that those who are left behind are not the people who don't work on improving themselves - they just don't run twice as fast. Because nowadays, you have to run twice as fast if you won't to keep up with the whole world.
All those who were worried that we might get "the fourth part of the trilogy" could breathe a sigh of relief after hearing the new album. The band achieved a great success. They recorded music different enough from the previous albums that no one could accuse them of plagiarising themselves, yet similar enough not to get accused of losing their own style. "Anno Domini High Definition" brought music that was dynamic, aggressive, energetic or even - referring to the title - hyperactive. The musicians did the best they could with this newly-gained freedom they were given after finishing "Reality Dream" trilogy, creating compositions that were impulsive, bold and unconventional. This time there were no shorter "verse-chorus" types of songs or acoustic ballads. Simpler forms were entirely replaced with complex progressive compositions.
First reviews were very good. As usual, the band got many warm reviews and a high note from "Teraz Rock". This time the band's release got 4,5 points on a 5-point scale and the reviewer wrote highly of the album: It's yet another Riverside album that you have to listen to a number of times because you cannot hear everything at once. But when you finally discover all that's there… I'm proud that we have such an "export band". A bit less enthusiastic but still very positive was Artrock.pl's reviewer, Mariusz Danielak. He explained the note (4) he gave to the band: It's an important album for this band. It starts the band's new life (…) it's heavier, much more demanding (…) Those, who appreciate this hard, powerful music known from the heaviest parts of "Reality Dream III" will find a lot of this in every composition. It's an album that can in no way disappoint someone who loves high-class hard rock playing, let alone any fan of this Warsaw group. (…) Four is the number associated with it so I'll also give it a four on a school scale. Because it is a good album…
There were many positive reviews also from other countries. High notes were given by rock, artrock and metal reviewers from Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and even Russia, among others. It seemed that most of the listeners welcomed this new album with a great relief and satisfaction. Fans rushed in great numbers to their local music shops even before the release date and thanks to this, only three days after reaching the shelves, "Anno Domini High Definition" debuted at number six on the list of best-selling albums in Poland. This was, however, only a foretaste of a real success because only a week later, the album was at the very top of this list, defeating the new releases of Polish pop stars - Andrzej Piaseczny and the band Feel.
The new studio album will, as usual, be promoted by a two-leg tour. It will probably be the biggest tour in the history of the band so far. In late September, Riverside will kick off with a twenty-date tour across Poland and then will have around thirty gigs abroad.
translation by Jakub "Bizon" Michalski
proof-reading by Marta Bartoszek
(source: Official Riverside Webiste)