By Sean Palmerston
Polish progressive metal/rock quartet Riverside has really made a name for itself over the past seven years. Taking the underground by storm with their 2003 debut album Out of Myself, released in North American one year later by prog specialists The Laser’s Edge, the band soon signed an international deal with Inside Out and has continued to gain momentum with every release. While the band has become a regular touring outfit in Europe and Scandinavia, the band has so far only played a select number of festival dates on this side of the pond. Which means this DVD is the first real opportunity that most of us have had to see them live. Thankfully, this two disc set is an excellent introduction to the Polish band’s live show, which should also win them over a whole new crowd of fans too.
If you’ve had the chance to check out any of the live DVDs that Metal Mind Productions has released over the past five years then you will be aware of the unique way that most live DVDs filmed in Poland are done: in a TV studio! Instead of going out and capturing the band live in an arena, it is commonplace for bands to go in and do live concerts on a sound stage at a television station – with a live audience, of course – and Riverside did exactly that. This show in particular was filmed at the Toya Studios in Lodz, Poland in 2008, shortly before the band recorded their fourth studio album Anno Domini High Definition. Since they had yet to record said album, this nearly 100 minute long concert concentrates on their first three albums, which collectively have become known as the Reality Dream trilogy.
If you’ve checked out Riverside on album, you already know this is a very talented band. Although I am sure they are quite tired of the comparison, first thing that comes to mind when hearing Riverside for the first time is how similar their spirit is to bands like Porcupine Tree and Opeth. They don’t actually sound a lot like either of these bands – Riverside is more mellow and atmospheric overall than both aforementioned groups – but their presentation is in line with them. Riverside is the most traditionally progressive minded of the three, with the soaring guitar leads of Piotr Grudzinski and Mariusz Duda’s melodic vocal lines really setting them apart.
The first disc contains the twelve songs that make up the main part of their Lodz performance, with their two encores kicking off the second. The second disc also contains a number of bonus performances, most of which were filmed in Germany, although two songs captured live at the band’s 2008 performance at Montreal’s FMPM Festival, which I believe is their only Canadian performance to date. The second disc is rounded out by an unvoiced documentary that shows behind the scenes at the Lodz performance. While it is interesting, it’s also admittedly pretty boring and is something you really won’t need to watch ever again. Once is more than enough. Thankfully this is about the only bum part of this great two-disc set, which comes highly recommended to both longtime fans of the band and anyone curious about what they are like in a live setting.
(Riverside/Prog Team EU)