I’ve been sitting on the new Rivers of Nihil album for a couple of weeks now and frankly still can’t make head or tail of it, but I’m going to throw some word chunder onto a page and see if any of it can begin to give a sense of “Where Owls Know My Name”. My feelings for the new Primordial album are a bit easier to get on a page and “Exile Amongst The Ruins” makes an interesting companion piece.
“Where Owls Know My Name” – Rivers Of Nihil
The third album by Pennsylvania’s mind melting metallers, Rivers Of Nihil, is pretty much bang on everything I’ve ever wanted from an album.
The gateway for me into metal, and challenging music in general was (apart from Linkin Park obviously) the early prog rock gods: Genesis, King Crimson, Marillion. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the soaring feeling you get from going down the rabbit hole on the full rendition of “The Musical Box” and I have to say I never expected that I would find that experience again on what the face of it is a death metal album.
But this sums up for me what is truly meant by progressive music, the band move serenely between moody electronics into brutal blast-beating metal (I hope you like blast beats…) to soaring Steve Hackett-esque guitar work, to saxophone solos (!!!), sometimes all within the same song. I mean who looks at a saxophone and goes, you know what our death metal band is missing, a bit of that.
For me this album has the perfect balance between wondering what is going to come next out of box of tricks and not having any element seeming forced or misplaced. “Subtle Change” has to be the epitome of this with multiple movements that flow into each other with some sort of obscure symmetry, like you’re looking at a shape but missing a dimension to see the whole picture. Then “Terrestria III: Wither” surprises you with a piece that wouldn’t be out of place as a palette cleanser on a Perturbator album.
If it isn’t pushing hard for a spot in my top 5 at the end of the year it will have been an insane year for metal.
Verdict: Progressive Perfection, about 15 listens in I’m still scratching the surface
“Exile Amongst The Ruins” – Primordial
Review to follow.