An early high water mark for the year

As this album starts, first impressions are that ‘Cancer/Moonspeak’ is just another quiet intro so that the brutality of the rest of Where Owls Know My Name is magnified and when ‘The Silent Life’ follows it up there is some truth in this thinking.

The opening of the album with its lush softly sung vocals isn’t merely there to make the heavy heavier. It is more an example of the maturity the band is aiming for.

‘The Silent Life’ helps exemplifies  this with a great saxophone/guitar play off as its centrepiece. The amalgamation of prog metal and death may not sound like much, but here it works to great effect.

This growth continues throughout, every track experimenting more so than the last in mixing technical death metal with various eras of progressive music. Strewn throughout the album, every song shines brilliantly both on their own merit and as a collection.

The real changes come in the centre of the album after the band think that you should be used to the sudden changes in musical style. ‘Subtle Change’ comes over in a more delicate tone opening with a tribal beat and delicately strummed guitars as it builds in intensity to then crash back into the lush sounds. It ebbs and flows in this manner allowing for another delicate saxophone solo to add to the amalgam of music that engulfs the listener.

All this before the band pull another trick out of the bag on the electronically driven ‘Terrestria III:Wither’, driving along like something Godflesh may have released at their darkest and most brutal.

The building intensity leads to the title track, taking all the lessons learnt up to this point and improving on all aspects of them. From the quiet building drama to the blast beats that change quickly to something far jazzier, the music itself manically twists and turns itself to a something that can only be described as brutally beautiful. The album is perfectly bookended with ‘Capricorn / Agoratopia’ taking you on a journey through many musical facets before closing as quietly as it opened.

Smashing genres together is nothing particularly new, especially in the modern musical environment where every sound and genre is at ones finger tips. The success is in making it all sound like the ingredients bake a great meal. And here that is exactly what Rivers Of Nihil have done all while setting the bar extremely high for other technically minded death metal bands to try and match, an early high water mark for the year.

  1. Cancer / Moonspeak
  2. The Silent Life
  3. A Home
  4. Old Nothing
  5. Subtle Change (Including the Forest of Transition and Dissatisfaction Dance)
  6. Terrestria III:Wither
  7. Hollow
  8. Death Is Real
  9. Where Owls Know My Name
  10. Capricorn / Agoratopia