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Riverside: Memories in My Head (EP)

To celebrate the band's 10th anniversary, Poland's Riverside have returned to the label that gave them their start, the Laser's Edge, and have delivered this 3-song, 33 minute EP titled Memories in My Head. Containing prog, metal, and space rock styles, Memories in My Head is about as perfect as you can get these days, as Riverside have delivered a collection of music that bridges the earlier sounds of Out of Myself with the more recent Anno Domini High Definition, throwing in some Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater, and Pink Floyd influences in for good measure. Despite the short length of this EP, it's 33 minutes of progressive music bliss that shows just how remarkable this band is.

Opener "Goodbye Sweet Innocence" kicks off with layers of spacey synth blips and guitar feedback, like a head-on collision between Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream, before Mariusz Duda's bass & vocals signal the arrival of a very catchy, powerful, and emotional prog rock song with a modern edge. Lush, melodic, and haunting all at the same time, this song is destined to be a Riverside classic. The guitar work, keyboards, drums, and vocals are simply outstanding here. Sultry Hammond organ, synths, tricky drum patterns, and tasty guitar solos lead in the stunning "Living in the Past", a song that goes from atmospheric prog to heavy rock quite quickly, as the crunchy riffs and stabbing synths fight for supremacy with Duda's emotional vocals. Lots of solo spots here to sink your teeth into (including some killer Hammond passages), making this one another heavy prog classic in waiting. Duda's thick, acrobatic bass riffs on "Forgotten Land" have an almost Geddy Lee feel, but the soaring vocals, Mellotron, and searing guitar lines bring to mind Porcupine Tree at their most dramatic & epic. This one builds and builds, as Duda's vocals get more aggressive and gruff, keeping pace with the steadily growing bombast as the song draws to conclusion, then quietly going out in full space rock mode just as the CD began, with chirping synths and waves of guitars echoing in the distance.

Mariusz Duda, Piotr Grudziński, Piotr Kozieradzki, and Michał Łapaj have a lot to be proud of here on Memories in My Head. This is prog rock of the highest order, slightly less 'metal' than their last release, but heavy enough in spots to keep those into that style perfectly happy. Stunning, and highly recommended!

Track Listing
1. Goodbye Sweet Innocence
2. Living in The Past
3. Forgotten Land

Added: June 30th 2011
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 3421
Language: english

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Riverside: Memories in My Head (EP)
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-06-30 06:46:28
My Score:

This EP sees Riverside returning to their first label The Laser's Edge to commemorate their 10th anniversary. They had started out with The Laser's Edge before moving onto Inside Out for their following three albums. At this point, I don't know if this is a one-off album with The Laser's Edge or not, but whatever it is, Memories in My Head is a fantastic release.

Though some have claimed that it is a return to the sounds of their debut, I beg to differ. While many fans will agree that the three songs here (at nearly 33 minutes) revisit the moodier and spacier side of their first disc, the songs involve more of the songwriting aesthetic that bridged their second and third albums, especially the latter. This is primarily because of keyboardist Michael Lapaj who has a totally different approach to composition than the original keyboardist. Lapaj's melodies develop more thoroughly, and he covers a broader spectrum of sound colours in his playing. From his use of quiet synth bleeps that evoke Porcupine Tree to denser explorations that tread the delicate line between vintage analog synths and more modern vibes, Lapaj achieves atmospheres like no other keyboard player in the genre. He leaves his sonic imprint on all three songs, recalling the more mood-intensive passages on Rapid Eye Movement with is frequent use of 'vertical' melody injections. At one point, he even exchanges a great unison solo spot with Piotr Grudzinski on "Living in the Past" which is not only the best track on this EP but also one of the finest in their entire catalog.

Vocalist Mariusz Duda leaves aside his more aggressive vocal style in favour of a smoother, calmer delivery (and definitely see them live if you can cause his live voice is exactly the same as on the album). Except for climaxing moments during the 'choruses' (like the 'I'm not going to live like everyone!' part on "Living in the Past"), he adopts a wonderfully melodious tone, employing his unique vocal emphasis at the most emotive points only. With that noted, his bass playing has reached a completely new level here. His style weaves Geddy Lee's incredible melodic sense with Geezer Butler's incorporation of bluesy elements into metal, and yet he plays the bass a bit like Steve Harris, with forceful guitar-like riffing. The whole chord progression on "Goodbye Sweet Innocence" is built around his bass before the Middle Eastern-scaled synth and guitar solos roll into the mix respectively. The guitar work is still admirably restrained, revealing passionate Floydian licks and powerful themes attached to each composition more vividly with each listen.

Travis Smith's artwork is again fantastic. I love all Riverside albums in terms of artwork, but this is one of their best. By the way, I recommend the US version of the album as it comes in a jewel case while the European version is a digipack. This EP is probably going to be the best EP of the year.

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