Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Rivers of Nihil: "Monarchy"

This one might have breezed by you in August, Pennsylvania band Rivers of Nihil released their sophomore full length. The two minute opener is a dark and melodic instrumental that the following song doesn't really try to work off off and instead opts for a more typical full speed ahead death metal blasturbation. A minute and a half in their is a more dissonant melodic section , but the intense chugging wins out. The vocals are not as guttural as most death metal,  in some ways you might think of their delivery as a more aggressive Meshuggah. The guitar playing is excellent as these guys have no shortage on the chops. Things stagnant early as the formula seems to be set by the time we get to "Reign of Dreams". The cool riffs alone do not make a good song rule, really hits these guys hard here. Things fortunately get more melodic with "Sand Baptism" or it was going to be a long ride. The drilling double bass works better over the slowed guitar. The syncopation is more of a mainstream metal thing, but it sounds good here. The gang growls are also a nice touch. Overall the production is pretty immaculate here, this album sounds great it's just hit or miss when it comes to originality.

Another nod this album and perhaps the genre as a wholes, since there was a similar element on the Thy Art is Murder ;bum, to Meshuggah comes in how the atmosphere sits in the solo sections. The bass sound also invokes the Meshuggah feel. By the time I have made it to "Dehydrate' it's apparent that roughed up Meshuggah worship is what the point of this whole thing is it's just hidden better at some moments. It becomes one of those things where my ears try to  focus in on the parts that don't have the Meshuggah thing going on, while there are ample bits of prog the beginning of  the  title track benefits from a somewhat lower growl and slinky bass line. There are some other bass lead moments that offer a little more melody make the chugs really count. There are varied levels of atmospheric shredding on the instrumental that follows. If you are guitarist who gets off on this kind of artful wanking then you will find plenty to water your mouth here.

The double bass doesn't relent , but they slow slightly to offer more of a dynamic hint to "Circles in the Sky" that chugs along at a brisk pace. They give you another breather here in time for the solo. The chugged bridge out of the solo is one of the album's more powerful moments.The closing song "Suntold" is not as compelling and fades into the background for me rather than commanding my attention. The album sounds great and some of it's more melodic moments might grow on me so I'll round this one up to a 6, meaning if you are a fan of this stuff I'm sure it's next level shit, but I need a little more than what these guys do, by no fault of their own as they made the album it sounds like they wanted. Not sure this comes close to album of the year list material , but some people set their sights as low.

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