Riverside - ID.Entity
InsideOut Music
Progressive Rock/Metal
7 songs (53:11)
Release year: 2023
Riverside, InsideOut Music
Reviewed by Goat

Following on from the deeply personal and mournful Wasteland as the band dealt with the death of guitarist Piotr Grudziński, Polish progsters Riverside have gone in an entirely different direction on this, their eighth full-length to date. Sounding more like 90s Rush or even 80s Genesis at points, the band have made a concept album tackling technology and the online world with plenty of poppy-sounding synths and lyrics that can verge on the wrong side of cringey. There's much still to like about the band's sound, driven by undeniably talented musicianship and the lilting vocals of frontman Mariusz Duda that together ensure that this remains rather beautiful music, not least on opener and single Friend or Foe? Despite the obviously poppy synths there's still a metallic underpinning brought to life in the lead guitar towards the end, resurrecting the Porcupine Tree vibe of past albums and holding the interest of any listeners who may be put off by the 80s influences.

Yet such listeners would be well advised to give ID.Entity a chance to grow, as there is a genuinely solid album here despite certain glaring missteps, such as the goofy 'robot' voiceover before Big Tech Brother asking whether you agree to "terms and conditions" before listening to the song. It doesn't just wrongfoot the listener in the worst sort of way but genuinely comes across as amateurish and sloppily performed, spoiling the introduction to an otherwise solid seven minute dramatic Pain of Salvation-esque prog piece that gets its message across fairly well. And the lyrics across the album could have used more time, particularly harming longest piece present The Place Where I Belong which are downright clumsy and completely lacking in poetry, harming an otherwise boringly competent post-Genesis thirteen-minute epic.

Disappointingly for progheads looking for good eating, the shorter and more straightforward pieces here are the best; groovy rocker Post-Truth, for instance, with its synth soloing, or I'm Done With You's resentful energy. Overall the songs with the strongest rock undertones thanks to the bass-forward writing (and a terrific production handled by Duda that allows each instrument to shine) are most impressive, particularly apparent on Landmine Blast, an anxiously grooving prog rocker that makes each strum, riff, and rumble an expression of emotionally-invested intent - somewhere between Rush, Porcupine Tree, and Tool, without ever quite becoming a copy of any. It's a superb piece of prog rock and worth experiencing the album for in its own right, even with a slightly sudden ending. The flaws present are significant but not quite enough to stop this being a solid album from Riverside, even coming from the career-defining (and sadly, it seems, once-in-a-lifetime) Wasteland. Hopefully the white guy reggae in the snarkily-titled Self-Aware will be a one-off, too!

Killing Songs :
Friend or Foe?, Landmine Blast, Post-Truth, I'm Done With You
Goat quoted 70 / 100
Other albums by Riverside that we have reviewed:
Riverside - Wasteland reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Riverside - Anno Domini High Definition reviewed by Boris and quoted 98 / 100
Riverside - Rapid Eye Movement reviewed by Boris and quoted 87 / 100
Riverside - Second Life Syndrome reviewed by Boris and quoted 94 / 100
Riverside - Out Of Myself reviewed by Boris and quoted 93 / 100
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