Riverside – ID.Entity (2023)
Me, on my first RA (Riversidefans Anonymous) meeting ; Hi I'm Erik and I am a narrow minded prog rock fan. Hi Erik…… well you know the Drill.
Why this statement? Well, probably because of the comments I will be getting on this review.
To be able to understand this review a bit better you have to know my history with Riverside, I'll try to keep it short.
Immediately after the release of Out of Myself I was sold. I still consider Second Life Syndrome one of the very best albums ever made. The beautiful lyrical guitar playing of the sadly deceased Piotr Grudzinski for me was the icing on the cake of the wonderful music of these talented Poles. After that the albums became less and less for me but on all of them where fantastic songs and I still think they are very good. Wasteland isn't really my cup of tea and I just miss that heavenly guitar work. Yet I still think Riverside is a very good band with the charismatic Mariusz Duda as an absolute brilliant bassplayer and frontman.
Okay, now to ID.Entity.
Prior to release, the two singles I’m done with you and Self -aware, (and just before release even a third (Friend or Foe?), could be heard. To be honest, I didn't think it was that special and after listening to the new album again and again I still think it's a shame that these two singles close the album because the strongest music is in the middle. As expected, the epic The Place where I belong appeals to me the most. See my opening statement of this review. I'll come back to this.
Just to be clear, every band has every right to do what they want and renew themselves and that's a very much appreciated move. Riverside has been reborn and the music on ID.Entity shows this. The beautiful vocals of Duda, the beautiful melodies and the wonderful keyboard work of Michal Lapaj have remained. Lapaj plays some excellent solo’s on the mighty Hammond. According to Duda the band wanted to create a live feeling in the studio and that can be heard. The album sounds really good and fresh and the sometimes very heavy riffs blast out of the speakers. Thumbs up for that!
What do I have to whine about then?
The men have clearly opted for a more mainstream direction and you can already hear that in the opening track and third single, Friend or Foe? I hear a tight and simple electronic rhythm and a melody line that could have come straight from Norwegians Aha (pop). Yet there is a Riverside sauce over it and that still makes it a nice song. New guitarist, and now regular band member, Maciej Meller plays a lot of tight riffs and occasional small solo-like pieces, but doesn't get the room Grudzinski got (or claimed?). I've seen Meller play live a number of times with his old band Quidam and he played much more adventurous and a lot of great solos. I miss that on ID.Entity. You can hear that he can still do this in the already mentioned The Place where I belong. This song is closest to the "old" Riverside and has so much variety and a truly beautiful melody. Clearly my favourite. The driving and rhythmic Big Tech Brother also has those typical Riverside moments and is a great track too.
Landmine Blast and Post-Truth are shorter and more straightforward songs that are played very tight, but lean more towards the music on Wasteland. Nice but simply not special enough for me.
Where the album does excel is the lyrical part. Duda is a very good lyricist and knows how to put down the theme of this album with clear statements. Where do I belong in this increasingly polarizing society and to what extent do I allow myself to be influenced by everything around me and do I find my own ID.Entity. Very smart and up to date. I think everyone can relate to this subject and certainly the young people who are bombarded with an incredible amount of information. All parents with children will recognize this, and for each of us it is a challenge to recognize fake news and process all of the presented information.
ID.Entity is a fine album played by an excellent playing band and drifts more from the old, and perhaps familiar, Riverside sound. For some a blessing for others a curse. Given all the comments on social media, many fans love the album but some really dislike it. For me it's a good album but not my favourite of this band. As always I will keep on playing the album and maybe, just maybe, it will grow on me a bit more.
See you at the next meeting!