In 2018 I reviewed Where Owls Know My Name by Pennsylvania’s technical death metal band Rivers Of Nihil which was a album not only met my expectations sky high on hearing the most breathtaking, beautifully crafted and designed albums in the 2010’s era, it captured the essences, nature and beauty of the record showcasing growth, maturity, experimentation and the band dived into a deeper, more melodically and jazzy inspired signatures of technical death metal was a record I have never left my playlist and claimed it as a modern day masterpiece. Now in 2021, just little over 3 years have past since Where Owls Know My Name was dropped, we have the newest chapter into Rivers Of Nihil’s catalog titled The Work and is released once again through Metal Blade Records.
Now, if you know exactly the history of Rivers Of Nihil and their philosophy in incorporating different structures and elements of music ranging from progressive death metal, technical death and and some melodicism in the mix, The Work is somewhat, the most comprehensive, accessible and intelligent written albums I think they’ve ever done. After the commercial success of Where Owls Know My Name was released in 2018, I think The Work is exactly what I was wanting out of a Rivers Of Nihil album and truth be told, these musicians are without shadow of doubt, the most talented, most artistic and professional musicians in the modern-day era of extreme metal. I can’t tell you how much I have been waiting this very moment to finally here the next evolution into the band’s career.
Now, I won’t go over much about the album’s lyrical content and contexts since you have to be in the mindset to know what they’re referring to but I will say this, The Work introduces the trendy progressive structures, strong atmospheres and songwriting improvements, these musicians took their finest craft to the next level where the music is extremely flawless and polished to absolute perfection. The songs are not overly technical to a degree but instead the lyricism, production, and the talented craftsmanship is just what you expect from a Rivers Of Nihil album. Rivers of Nihil are what could be considered 3rd generation death metal, directly influenced by the lot of bands in the early 2000s that took technical and brutal music to monotonous extremes with a lack of real memorability where they know exactly how to write these tracks to become well executed and have balanced between technicality and their actual skills for playing this style of music is simply astonishing.
The focus is on the songwriting of the album in it’s entirety with plenty of softer moments that allow the death metal sections to really shine which is where the latter half of this record begins to become a memorable standout for metal albums for 2021. Musically speaking, the instrumentals are extremely impressive whether it’s the guitars are well complimented by some really groovy, pounding bass lines that do an excellent job navigating through the bizarre song structures found on this album and additionally speaking the drums have improved significantly prior to the last Rivers Of Nihil album. Especially hearing the songs The Void from Which No Sound Escapes, Focus, Maybe One Day, Dreaming Black Clockwork and Tower 2 feature some jazz signatures which makes the album authentically experimented to a whole new level of extreme metal. Overall, I’m extremely impressed by this album and considered they’ve been around for twelve years now it’s amazing how far they’ve came as a band to create the most matured, experimented and groundbreaking albums to date.
Overall Score: 10/10
Review by Jake Butler