Review: Riverside – ID. Entity
InsideOut Music (January 20th, 2023)
Reviewer: David Pearce
Riverside are a Polish band whose debut album arrived two decades ago. This, their eighth album, is called ‘ID.Entity‘ and looks at the way that the world is changing, and the effect it is having on all of us. Riverside are Mariusz Duda who provides vocals and also plays bass, electric and acoustic guitars, Piotr Kozieradzki on drums, Michał Łapaj the keyboardist who also contributes synthesizers, Rhodes piano and Hammond organ and Maciej Meller who teams up with Duda on electric guitar.
The first track is ‘Friend or Foe‘, a superb seven-minute opener to this album. It opens with a synth solo from Lapaj which brings to mind Vince Clarke’s Yazoo and is a really different start that instantly intrigues the listener. The guitars of Duda and Meller come in and the listener is hit by this wall of sound which fades into the pounding drums played with verve and insight by Kozieradski. Once the bass joins in, you are left in no doubt that this is a group who are comfortable in a range of genres. Duda’s vocals put me in mind of Morten Harket and the song itself is a reflection of the fractured nature of current interaction where no one is really who they seem. It is a brilliant, thought-provoking song that is already one I have started to get obsessed by.
‘Landmine Blast‘ seems like a more straightforward rock song at first, but the sound develops into something completely different. There are disembodied computerised voices talking about disconnection and it is quite simply an extremely accomplished track from a band unafraid to be different. ‘Big Tech Brother‘ starts with an announcement that you need to agree to terms and conditions before you hear the song! It is a driving track that uses the drums, guitars and various keyboards to disorientating effect. It is a supremely unsettling song that talks about the way that tech has started to control us in our move towards an Orwellian future. ‘Post-Truth‘, the fourth track takes its title from the modern-day proclamations, angry and seemingly friendly, that will play with your emotions and seek to make you angry. It is incredibly fertile territory for Riverside as they take aim at the breakdown of truth in today’s society.
‘The Place Where I Belong‘ is a song in two halves. The first half is a deeply unsettling love song that show a sensitive side to Duda’s vocals that deliver a coruscating dismissal of a controlling partner. I found myself becoming very uncomfortable when listening to the lyrics, as indeed I should be. The second half is an angry denunciation of modern society that reminded me of the early Heaven 17 albums with Glenn Gregory’s precise and mannered vocals hiding the fury within. Amazingly for a song that is 13 minutes long, it never drags for even a second. Once again, Riverside show that they cannot be compared with anyone else you have ever heard. ‘I’m Done with You‘ is a song that starts with a synthesiser solo that sounds just as effective as any guitar solo. Yet again, it’s a song that doesn’t do anything that you might expect, and it is all the better for that. There are touches of Queen in the way the song is constructed, with Innuendo coming to mind as a song with similarly effective changes of tone, speed and approach. The final track, ‘Self-Aware‘ is a thundering finish to the album that musically and lyrically is the encapsulation of this brilliant collection of tracks. With the air of a heavy version of The Police, Duda and the rest of the group construct another song that constantly challenges the listener to keep up with its audacity and brilliance. I just loved this song’s confidence in itself, a confidence that is well-earned and complete.
This is a very early contender for album of the year, and I guarantee you will not hear anything else like it for the rest of 2023. Thank you, Riverside, for entertaining me, challenging me and giving me such a great start to my album reviewing year.
- Friend or Foe?
- Landmine Blast
- Big Tech Brother
- The Place Where I Belong
- I’m Done With You