This album is a conceptual work based on the reality of being a full time band, written in the aftermath of their biggest album and a decision to tackle it all head on and give up any day job they had to put all of their energy into the band and the music they can create.
Being a concept album, it begins with cinematic and whispered vocals building the tension throughout The Tower. This tension erupts towards the end of the opener before settling back into where it all began, leaving Dreaming Black Clockwork as the first track of familiarity. The really noticeable aspect is River of Nihil’s stretch toward even more prog territory, using more soundscapes and less of the technical death metal on which they have built their firm reputation. Of course, this all began to noticeably change on the previous album Where Owls Know My Name, and the band have pointed in a direction such as this since they first came to the music world’s attention.
To provide some level of balance after the opening salvo, Wait comes on with its clean vocals and sublime clean guitar tones dropping all death metal pretences, and opens the way completely to the sound they’re heading for, continuing through Focus and Clean, making for the best 15 minutes on the album. It’s a complete exposes of what the band is aiming for.
There are still some heavy, heavy tracks here, although they are in a constant battle with the proggier elements of the band. Perhaps the best comparison I can make is the similar growth a band such as Between The Buried and Me went through. For those digging straight for what they are used to, hearing More? throws the only real hard punch on the album. Episode is built perfectly as a bridge between the two worlds the band want so desperately to inhabit, but hidden towards the end of the album forces the listener to sit (perhaps uncomfortably at times) through some long and thoughtful passages before delivering the lollies.
It’s rare that a band builds towards something album after album and allows listener taste to grow with them, keeping their cards close to their chest while letting you read the smirk on their face. This album will take some getting used to for the average die-hard fan going in based purely on name alone. This is a shift in everything that makes Rivers of Nihil great and interesting, while at the same time it will driving a huge wedge between the traditional fans and those only recent to the party.
1. The Tower (Theme from “The Work”)
2. Dreaming Black Clockwork
6. The From Which No Sound Escapes
8. Tower 2
10. Maybe One Day
11. Terrestria IV: Work