Review Summary: Pearl-clutching at the fabric of the past.
For me Riverside will always be one of those “I’ve got to be in the mood for it” bands. That’s not a slur, I just prefer hearing Shrines Of New Generation Slaves
and Anno Domini High Definition
where they would have the most pensive impact. With that in mind it would make sense that my attention (regrettably) would wane with the passing of lead guitarist Piotr Grudziński. The band’s soul became noticeably torn, and Piotr’s pivotal creative input felt distinctly left behind. There was respect in picking up the pieces and pushing forwards, but Riverside and the coinciding Wasteland
felt like a hollow shell of itself—memory and placation stumbling over the finish line as the band and its subsequent fans mourned together. Looking back, I was perhaps a little harsh, left raw by the nostalgic appreciation of the Riverside of old. More modern Riverside albums simply lacked the baser impact I preferred and that’s my cross to bear.
In looking a little closer to the ‘now’ and it would seem that ID.Entity
would return to the original formula, both in title wordplay (S.O.N.G.S.
being prime examples) and in musical style. The missteps are still here, but ID.Entity
is a tentative step in the right direction while citing relatable lyrical poise (especially if you’re still feeling the repercussions of that pandemic we still seem to be having) and brooding instrumentalism. In parts, ID.Entity
is spectacular, a visage reminiscent of the band’s better days. Grand compositions are simply bolstered by technical flamboyance balanced with musical restraint. A paradigm of noises made both to amaze and
simply carry the listener on this voyage of musical self-discovery only to turn modern day grievances into songs played over and over again. Unfortunately, that’s exactly where ID.Entity
begins to run into issues.
itself is a mixed bag caught in a conflicting need to be musically expressive and lyrically relevant. As pretty and on point as the band’s musicianship is (occasionally dipping its pointed little toes into a synth-led soundscape more commonly found on a The Flower Kings album), it’s the story-telling that blurs the lines, messes the canvas and otherwise prevents ID.Entity
from being the record long-time fans deserve. Don’t get me wrong—Riverside’s 2023 piece isn’t a write-off. ID.Entity
, or rather vocalist Mariusz Duda is just confused as to how to get all the words out. Vocally, he’s gently caressing, a trait found consistent across the band’s larger discography—but here, the delivery is clearly lacking, either stumbling into an unready stanza or simply not belonging to the music it’s composed over.
Even the voice samplings, like the more prominent example found in the beginning of “Big Tech Brother” sound misplaced. Sure, contextually it hits the proverbial nail on the head, identifying modern day catches and possible ramifications of blindly accepting just how dependent on technology society has become but they’re a cringe, overstuffing the motif before a single lyric is sung. It’s a shame because the messages themselves are poignant and on point. “Self-Aware”, the record’s closing track also falls into similar trappings. Duda croons “unsubscribe the ones who make us hostile” to a nth degree finding too many syllables to articulate a sense of hook, adverse lyrics kill all sense of flow and direction. The music is beautiful. These lyrics are not.
Perhaps I find myself being a little too harsh at an album just trying to establish an identity
after the loss of a more prominent songwriter. Wasteland
itself is more likely the last flashes in a pan left over from such an example. For Riverside themselves there’s both a lot to work with and a lot working for them—lyrically however they’re hurting. Longtime fans will rejoice in the fact that they are trying
, fingers tight curled around their past in the hopes that just maybe Riverside will surface anew. Unfortunately, Riverside themselves will search a little longer for their new ID.Entity