Thursday, 11 November 2021

ALBUM REVIEW: Rivers of Nihil, "The Work"

By: Richard Maw
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/09/2021
Label: Metal Blade Records

“The Work” CD//DD//LP track listing:
1. The Tower (Theme From “The Work”)
2. Dreaming Black Clockwork
3. Wait
4. Focus
5. Clean
6. The Void From Which No Sound Escapes
7. MORE?
8. Tower 2
9. Episode
10. Maybe One Day
11. Terrestria IV: Work
The Review:
Rivers of Nihil are certainly one of America's most interesting metal exports these days. Their last album, “Where Owls Know My Name” was positively avant garde- bringing new sounds and textures in a way not heard since perhaps Opeth or Celtic Frost to the death metal genre.
Indeed, the band are now quite some distance from 'death metal.' I would hazard that this is best described as progressive metal. There are death metal building blocks here and there- Adam Biggs' growl, the riffage in places, blasts etc... but, really, this is progressive fair. The album is a series of movements and soundscapes (in common with Opeth), and a mixture of clean singing and growls (ditto) but there are many touches of classic rock, prog and even industrial music in the rhythms, synths and so on.
The lead work is uniformly good, the production is solid but a little homogenous for my tastes. There is a sheen throughout that is not perhaps entirely welcome and the drums thud rather than crack- belying their processed nature. These are small gripes, really, as there is nothing wrong with the album at all. As a collection of musical pieces, it's adventurous and daring. Fans of Opeth, Mastodon et al will find much to enjoy here.
I first got into the band for album number two- “Monarchy”- and truthfully it is still my favourite as it is techy, brutal and pretty straight up death metal. That said, there is once again saxophone on this record, there is huge variety and a lot of lateral movement within each composition. That could not be said of the music on “Monarchy”, so the band have legitimately evolved, softened and expanded. It's to be commended, as they could have stuck with what they did and just kept doing it.
The brutal moments here (right next to the sax on one occasion) serve to highlight how sparsely they are used. This is not a death metal album- it just incorporates elements of the genre. It's impressive, varied and wide ranging in scope.
How you feel about all of this will probably be informed by where you climbed aboard the Rivers of Nihil Train- if you liked the progressive elements of recent albums, this is assuredly for you. If you are looking for tech death- look elsewhere. If you are looking to sample this, pick the track “More?” for brutal death. Pick the track “The Void From Which No Sound Escapes” for progressive experimentation and try out “The Tower” (the opener) for a bit of a flavour of a few elements in one. Overall, this is impressive and probably worthy of the plaudits that will be heaped upon it.
“The Work” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook