Where Owls Know My Name Pennsylvania-based progressive metallers Rivers of Nihil have thrown predictability to the wind on their third album. Melding artsy, meandering saxophone with crushing death metal, the band have come up with a startling gift that might be one of the most essential metal releases of this year. It’s like King Crimson have kicked down the door at a Behemoth concert, and are showing these kids how real chaos is done. Jazzy overtones soothe the fury of “The Silent Life,” while rhythmic keyboard solos fly on “Subtle Change (Including the Forest of Transition and Dissatisfaction Dance).” But it’s the Tool-like melodies of the title track that will have prog fans screaming for more.
Rivers of Nihil still write above-average death metal, but it’s when they stray from this formula that their true potential is revealed. Jake Dieffenbach and Adam Biggs’ vocal harmonies are a welcome addition, one that was missing from the band’s previous releases. Combined with a huge range of influences (check out the industrial squall of “Terrestria
every thought possible, storytelling to make listeners aware that he struggles too, possibly with things he can’t seem to escape from. His honesty and melodic, calming choruses and singing are for those who want to hear something real. (Saba Pivot LLC, sabapivot.com) POP
Rivers of Nihil
III: Wither”), there’s no telling where Rivers of Nihil could go from here. With Katatonia currently on hiatus, we could see big changes in the progressive metal realm. (Metal Blade, www.metalblade.com)
Where did you get the idea to do a death metal album with saxophone?
Biggs: Brody [Uttley, lead guitarist] and I are both big classic ’70s prog fans. Bands like King Crimson and Pink Floyd, Yes and Rush. You hear a lot of non-traditional rock instruments in bands like that all the time. No one really bats an eye… [these are] albums that, in some cases, we like more than any metal artists.
But why the sudden change?
We always had a love for that kind of music. I think there are moments on the first few albums where that shines through. But from the outset of writing this new record, it was “Do we do that again, or do we try something completely different?” My inclination is always “why do it again?” normally sound brash or impulsive, but Allison’s soft-spoken delivery takes charge and makes the song defiantly anthemic, in a tender way. Clean alternates between cheeky, up-tempo arrangements like “Cool” and “Last Girl,” and more shy, melancholy tracks like “Flaw” and “Wildflowers” that blossom into fluttering, luscious finales. Even with a full band, Soccer Mommy’s arrangements remain tasteful, allowing Allison’s daydream-like prose to shine through. While it isn’t a huge departure from Soccer Mommy’s early work, Allison is promptly hitting her stride and clearly gaining confidence and showing it with strands of snarkiness and angst mixed into her delicate, vulnerable songs. (Fat Possum) GROOVE