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Rivers Of Nihil - Where Owls Know My Name Award winner

Rivers Of Nihil
Where Owls Know My Name
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 02 March 2018, 3:36 AM

Hailing from Reading, Pennsylvania, USA, RIVERS OF NIHIL present their third full length album titled “Where Owls Know My Name.” Whereas their previous efforts “Seed” and “Monarchy” were thematically centered around spring and summer, respectively, “Where Owls Know My Name” represents the fall. Although that season is usually associated with death, for RIVERS OF NIHIL, the autumn serves as a rebirth. The album contains ten tracks.

“Cancer/Moonspeak” is a brief opener that sets a melancholy tone but with a bit of a sinister quality; like the proverbial calm before the storm. It segues into “The Silent Life.” Thunderous drumming combines with anguished Death Metal vocals, and ever-shifting guitar riffs that are rich in texture and diversity. The whole of the mid-tempo song definitely has a despondent sound, with beautifully melodic ambient passages. The saxophone notes really add another dimension to the song, as does the stellar guitar solo, with just the right amount of notes on the melody like to raise the hairs on your neck. It is both brutal and graceful at the same time.

“A Home” is next. The pace quickens and bass guitar takes on some of the leading sound. It’s angry and aggressive but balanced from subtle and sophisticated melodies, and clean vocal passages that make you yearn. Complex, but completely accessible, it spires high into the clouds. “Old Nothing” pounds you into submission with absolutely maddened drum kit work, where timekeeper Jared Klein” puts in a technical display of dazzling wizardry. The song is a bit darker and with more rage than the previous few; a more bloody raw plate of meat to satisfy the carnivore we all have inside. “Subtle Change (Including the Forest of Transition)” is an eight minute track of gut-wrenching vocals. They dance with the mournful melodies of clean vocals and keys, as well as some heavy rhythmic accents and doses of dissonance. Cornered, the coiled snake strikes you between the eyes in some moments, and retreats peacefully in others. But, as is in its nature, you never know what it might do next. Bountiful and refined, it is a wonderfully crafted opus that takes you on a journey of different emotions.

“Terrestria III: Wither” opens with a pulsing keyboard note and soft clean guitar. Muted trumpet notes join in a little further into the track. Soon, the keys take on a heavy and sinister tone, drawing out over the other instrumentation with an overbearing feeling of impending doom. It’s really a striking dichotomy. “Hollow” dials up a passionate indignation, with rage fueled vocals and that feeling you have in the pit of your stomach when you have nothing left and no one in the world. Weeping lead guitar notes and aching clean vocals run down you face like frozen tears. “Death is Real” opens with harmonic guitar notes that soon lead to a weighted assailment of drum work with chugging, rhythmic guitar and bass. Dieffenbach’s vocals are varied on the scale, sometimes charging high as screams, and the Progressive and Technical aspect of the album is on full display here. The saddened fade out at the end reminds you that life has tender moments as well.

 In “Where Owls Know My Name,” clean vocal harmonies lead off the song. The Death vocals are supported by melodic guitar parts and that sexy saxophone that, could seemingly be out of place in the genre, just work so well with the track. It’s a more introspective piece where the warm air of renewal fills your lungs, but still retains a very ardent edge. “Capricorn/Agoratopia” closes the album. It has a nihilistic sound…a sad and dejected tone that is the perfect sort of gloomy and grieving end to landscapes painted in various shades of grey and color throughout. RIVERS OF NIHIL have already established themselves as a dangerous and imaginative Progressive Death Metal band with technical mastery and a flair for the extreme. With “Where Owls Know My Name,” they have taken their craft to a place that few of their peers have been willing to negotiate. With melodies, subtleties, and rich ambiance, the album sets the bar for 2018.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Cancer/Moonspeak
2. The Silent Life
3. A Home
4. Old Nothing
5. Subtle Change (Including the Forest of Transition)
6. Terrestria III: Wither
7. Hollow
8. Death Is Real
9. Where Owls Know My Name
10. Capricorn/Agoratopia
Lineup:
Jake Dieffenbach - Vocals
Brody Uttley - Guitar
Jon Topore- Guitar
Adam Biggs - Bass/Vocals
Jared Klein- Drums
Record Label: Metal Blade Records
     


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Edited 25 June 2018
 

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