Rivers of Nihil are one of those bands that are trying new things in Metal. This American quintet have just released their third album, Where Owls Know My Name, since starting in 2009. Each release has allowed them to develop a style that is both brutal but allows them to flow into different areas of music unexpectedly and Where Owls Know My Name is no different. Their music is progressive and experimental and though there are elements of extreme metal there are also moments of taking saxophones in Metal to a more complete Jazz.
Extreme Metal dominates the album but there is always a sense of a backing symphonic melody that counters the speed and aggression with a slow build. This may be one of the bands biggest tools in creating a flow that can fall from a punishing guitar riff to slow guitar leads that feel quite like Pink Floyd at times. ‘The Silent Life’ is a good example of this but these elements never quite leave the background and this works to compliment a forever changing and yet consistent exploration of their music. Think of how albums fall into instrumental tracks but feel that it follows in and out of songs as well and you’d be heading in the right direction.
‘Subtle Change (Including the Forest of Transition)’ feels like the most accomplished song to bring it all together. It flows from aggressively fast metal into guitar solos into saxophone solos that never feels jarring but complimenting. The actual instrumental songs on the album like ‘Terrestria III: Wither’ as a consequence of the many musical elements brought into their music just make even more sense so that the Industrial touch doesn’t feel out of place their either.
The progressive metal is extreme and when the guitars and double bass pedals meet the deep vocals they do so in a fast punishing riffs that feel technical and djent-like but far closer to Fallujah in style. Their title track sports some clean vocals that feel as if a step towards something else and though the music lends itself to this kind of experimentation. It doesn’t lend itself quite to the emotion of the piece and actually doing better when it starts to whisper sinisterly in anticipation.
Where Owls Know My Name is an accomplished album and well worth a listen for the way it fuses Progressive Metal with Jazz so efficiently. It makes this an album to take note of and a distinct sound for Rivers of Nihil to build upon with every release, it is very likely that future releases will further push the boundaries and find new ways to fuse different musical inspirations together and finding a flowing river.