I first got turned on to Riverside when Joe, a good friend and the drummer of my old band, Three Way Crash, brought them to my attention.
He loves to scour the internet for good new prog bands and every few rehearsals would hand me a couple of CDs. This dates back some fifteen years ago, as I don’t even have a CD player in the house anymore.
Anyway, the disc is called Out of Myself and I was transfixed from the get-go. This checks off all the categories in what I look for in a band: flowing songs, intriguing vocals & playing expertise. Rhythms accentuate and then lay back, leaving room for virtuosic solos.
Looking them up, I was surprised to find they hail from Warsaw, Poland. Many non-English European bands struggle to compose lyrics that don’t have either a stilted or overly simplistic vision, but not these guys.
In terms of musical style, the band I would put in the same ballpark is Porcupine Tree, but that’s only because I can’t think of anything closer.
Mariusz Duda is the bassist and vocalist for this four piece ensemble, and handles both duties exceptionally. His ability to play complex rhythmic lines while singing is in Geddy Lee territory.
His vocals at first made me think of what Justin Heyward of the Moody Blues would sound like if he was a hard rock singer. His Nexus basses are made by Polish luthier Jacek Kobylski and have a unique tone, gritty and yet silky.
They rarely tour the US, focusing mostly in Europe, but played a few gigs in 2013, one of which I attended at a roadhouse in Dunellen, NJ.
I have to say I was kind of surprised they didn’t play in NYC and that this venue, though packed, was the kind of hinterland place that you’d expect some local band to play. They were terrific and sounded heavier than on record.
In particular, keyboardist Mikal Lapaj made me think of Jon Lord’s Hammond playing.
They came back around to Brooklyn last year to promote their new release and seventh CD, Wasteland and the new material sounds as strong as the rest of their work.
Their debut album, Out of Myself is the first of the Reality Dream Trilogy which includes the albums Outof Myself, Second Life Syndrome and Rapid Eye Movement. It is available now in a box set.
Wasteland comes from a very deep, personal place for Duda and the band. When Piotr Grudziński, co-founder and lead guitarist died suddenly on February 21, 2016, the future of the band was in question. Grudziński was returning to his Warsaw home after seeing a concert by The Winery Dogs (Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheehan, and Ritchie Kotzen) when he collapsed and dead from an apparent heart attack just before his 41st birthday.
The band cancelled all the concerts planned for that year and dedicated the album Eye of the Soundscape, released in September 2016, to their late friend.
Riverside began recording again in December 2017 with Duda assuming the role of both bass player and guitarist. Maciej Meller became their touring guitarist, and just a month ago he was announced as an official member.