After five years, the Polish progressive rock/metal quartet Riverside are back with an all-new album entitled ‘ID.Entity’ which is set as the 10th installment in their amazing discography. This album is a beautiful venture into new grounds for the band as it doesn’t really sound like something they have written before, all while maintaining the Riverside signature. The lyrics here are introspective and heavily tinted by a post-modern approach to social media and the internet in general, focusing on our desire to be seen and unseen and how difficult it is.
The artwork was designed by Jarek Kubicki who also made the album art for Lunatic Soul’s ‘Under the Fragmented Sky’, and it does a great job of highlighting the album’s chaotic sounds and nature.
It’s 1985 again, and Riverside have gone retro. We kick off with a playful little synth groove layered up with a deeper and bassier synth patch while the rest of the band slowly enters the scene. Keyboard player and sound designer Michal Lapaj changes up the bassline and we hear a classic pumping synthwave style bass. Mariusz Duda slides in with his iconic vocalizing and his biting bass that cuts through the mix and sits comfortably in your ear. They’ve really captured the sonic essence of these 80’s synths and made them sound really crisp and defined. I wouldn’t call ‘Friend or Foe’ a typical Riverside song as they seem to be exploring new territories all while keeping their incredibly catchy vocal lines. Five minutes into the song we get a switch-up in mood; we go from soft, mellow, and danceable melodies and sounds, into a hard and groovy riff that serves as an ending to this flashback.
Onto song number two with the title ‘Landmine Blast’, being greeted by a bass groove (that sounds like if Tool made video game music) layered up with a driven lead guitar line played by Maciej Meller, reminiscent of classic Riverside melodies from early albums like ‘Rapid Eye Movement’. Almost bordering on metal due to its riffy nature and odd-time grooves, it still manages to veer into a folky atmosphere which is characteristic of Duda’s style of melody writing.
The way this album manages to sound so compatible with the rest of their body of work is due to the abundance of unmistakable Riverside-style grooves, and song three, ‘Big Tech Brother’, starts off with one of those. This time we have synth horns accompanying the guitar and bass and it’s what I would call “Riverside but jazz”. The song maintains its grooviness throughout, occasionally adding heavy spice to the concoction. A focal point is the beautiful chorus vocal line “Mass control // 84 // Brave new world // I’m free raw material” that keeps drawing you in with every iteration, I know I’ll be singing it for days and days.
Each song on the album so far sounds like its own journey without being fully tied down to the other songs, except maybe in theme, remaining very explorative in style, sound, and general feel.
Song number four is titled ‘Post-Truth’ and it leans in on the heavy side. While it doesn’t shy away from being heavy, it keeps the catchy and melodic characteristics, and has plenty of memorable moments, from nasty riffing layered with organs and many synths to hooky vocal motifs. This song has my favorite selection of constantly evolving synth sounds, not to mention a face-melting solo by Lapaj over some wild riffs and terrific drumming. We are brought to a close by a piano playing the vocal hook from earlier.
Moving on, we have the longest song on the album with a runtime of over 13 minutes entitled ‘The Place Where I Belong’. We are greeted by Mariusz’s soothing voice as he strums his acoustic guitar, accompanied by atmospheric synths that really fill the ambiance and set the mood for the track. A reminiscent synth bass bleeds in and guides us into the next part of the song where things take a darker turn, contrasting the previous section and serving as a transition into a lovely surprise, a tasty bass line that will make you move your head and sing along. This section of the song will definitely appeal to 70’s prog rock fans and it includes a bluesy organ solo that will surely make you jam out. The energy is brought back down for a bit and we embark on an epic and folky adventure, embraced by the serene vocals and beautiful guitar leads.
‘ID.Entity’ is an experimental voyage into a big mesh of genres and styles and even though its identity is not defined in one place, it still sounds like Riverside and each of the band members really shine. I found the album exceptionally delightful and exponentially more enjoyable after every listen, I’ll surely be listening to it on repeat. My favorite tracks were ‘Friend or Foe’, ‘Post-Truth’, ‘The Place Where I Belong’.