Asuming that the ancient Mayans were talking complete gibberish and we haven’t all been obliterated before this sentence hits the page, the stresses and strains of the modern age continue to loom large over our everyday lives. While there is plenty of succour to be found within the vast amounts of glorious music being made, not least in the progressive rock world, it is sometimes hard to shake off a sense of debilitating ennui as mankind trudges inexorably towards self-destruction or, at the very least, self-inflicted chaos. As a result, the latest album by . People were able to find the melodies on Anno Domini… and it was successful, although we were still surprised and very happy!”
Four years on from conquering the charts at home, Riverside are still gaining momentum and look certain to enjoy their most successful year to date as Shrine… is unveiled and the ever-expanding prog legions embrace it with alacrity. Mariusz is philosophical about the cult status his band has enjoyed up until this point, but he also seems to be full of optimism about where this new record will take them, not least because after a decade of hard work, he finally feels that Riverside have made an album worthy of the world’s attention.
“So far, we’d always had good ideas but somewhere in between you could find something amateurish in there,” he says. “Whether it was in the production or the songwriting, everything wasn’t quite right. I learnt a lot from making my solo albums [under the Lunatic Soul banner] and I said to the rest of the band that I’d like to focus more on the production this time and on focusing on what we want to be. We are a band, but I asked for the final vote on everything so I could keep hold of the direction I wanted to follow. I wanted to keep the normal, simple songs, but there’s something more there and a depth that I probably lost on previous albums. For the first time I achieved what I wanted to achieve.”
Having only ventured outside of Poland a handful of times over the last decade, Mariusz and Riverside are eager to throw themselves into the task of spreading their sonic gospel across the globe this time around. With UK and European dates already booked for 2013, not to mention a debut headlining jaunt across the United States, the band are plainly confident that Shrine… is the album to enable them to scale the prog ladder and reap the rewards of all their hard work. We may live in a world that prizes mindless distraction over spiritual development and cheap media fixes over true cultural enrichment, but the existence of music with this much passion, spirit and imagination suggests that maybe there is cause for a little optimism too.
“I think if you grade the albums out of six, all of our previous albums have been a four or a four-plus, but this one is a five!” Mariusz laughs. “It’s a good album and I’m really happy with it. If a lot of people love it then I’ll say, ‘Woohoo!’ but if everyone says that they think it definitely sucks then maybe I should concentrate on Lunatic Soul or some different work, but I think we’re okay! I can listen to this album myself and it’s a pleasure to hear it. I think I finally got the combination right and it could appeal to progressive fans as well as my mum!”
This article originally appeared in issue 33 of Prog Magazine.
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January 21, 2023