Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name (Technical Death Metal)

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Let me start with saying that Rivers of Nihil is as a matter of fact one of my favorite techdeath bands and have been for years now. Together with bands like Beyond Creation, Archspire, Decrepit Birth, and Spawn of Possession it’s a band I always go to when I have the urge for some technical and progressive metal. There’s always been a feeling that Rivers of Nihil has never unlocked their full potential though and in some ways lacked in their own sound and identity. That being said I had really high hopes for Where Owls Know My Name as the singles I’d heard before were really something completely different from their older music which seemed to have sparked something brand new.

For those unfamiliar with Rivers of Nihil the band was formed in 2009, hailing from USA, has two EPs and two full-length albums released prior to Where Owls Know My Name. Their albums are focused on the different seasons, with the past two albums “Whereas the Conscious Seed of Light” and “Monarchy” were about Spring and Summer. Where Owls Know My Name obviously continue walking on this road with the focus here being on Autumn. The music have always had a lot of emphasis on creating an atmospheric feeling to it more than your common techdeath band which makes the band stick out in my eyes but also means, for some, Rivers of Nihil is a band you get or you don’t. Some even going as far as saying this isn’t technical death metal. Each to their own I guess, I don’t really care if they are labeled atmospheric techdeath, prog, jazz or whatever personally I think Rivers of Nihil are doing a superb job creating music that has a lot of emotion to it with sweet melodies and brings harmony, no matter what label you put on it.

Where Owls Know My Name takes their song-writing to a whole other level. Rivers of Nihil have really captured the atmosphere of Autumn with this one, especially with the great use of keyboards, trumpets, cellos and saxophones that makes this album a whole other beast than their previous releases. It’s really impressive and I get a new feeling each time I take the album for a spin. It is an album I do feel you need to be in a certain mood to listen to though in order to fully grasp and understand it though, seeing it is quite different and the influences are many. They’ve left most of their core sound behind and this album has gone even further into the atmospheric sound than ever before, even having a jazz feel to it. Breaking their own boundaries. That to me is a much welcoming move but I can see it perhaps leaving a few fans shaken up by it. Rivers of Nihil have only evolved though and grown even better in my eyes. Where Owls Know My Name is one of the best albums released this year that gets even better with each listen. This is what technical death metal is all about to me, full of emotions through instruments, breaking barriers, creating an atmosphere you could only dream of. Just listen to The Silent Life, A Home, Where Owls Know My Name or the instrumental track Terrestria III: Wither and you’ll see. It might not be for everyone but for me it’s close to a five, the bands best album to date, and I can’t wait to hear what Rivers of Nihil do next after having ascended into a new being.

Label: Metal Blade Records
For fans of: Decrepit Birth and Fallujah
Release date: March 16th, 2018
Favorite song: The Silent Life
Score: 4.5/5

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The Metal Gamer Best of 2017

Another year another best of the year list! This one is long overdue as I planed to post this several weeks ago but something always came in the way. Some of you might know I also write for Swedish site Rocknytt and I’ve of course submitted a best of to them as well. Difference from that list versus this one is that, just as last year, my list here will be based on albums I’ve reviewed in this blog. So the two lists will differ but I rather keep my blog to the more underground music (even though I do review some mainstream stuff as well). Some big changes to this year is that the list is now a top 40. I’ve added some more categories as well with best debut, concert and more. List is in no order (except for the categories I’ve chosen) and without further ado here it is, The Metal Gamer albums of the year!

Album of the Year: Archspire – Relentless Mutation
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The complete Top 40:
Archspire – Relentless Mutation
Trivium – The Sin and the Sentence
Havukruunu – Kelle Surut Soi
Decrepit Birth – Axis Mundi
Ereb Altor – Ulfven
Evocation – The Shadow Archetype
Dying Fetus – Wrong One to Fuck With
Mordbrand – Wilt
Hour of Penance – Cast the First Stone
King of Asgard – :taudr:
Firespawn – The Reprobate
Svart Crown – Abreaction
Mordbid Angel – Kingdoms Disdained
Shadow of Intent – Reclaimer
Desultory – Through Aching Aeons
Coffin Creep – Corpse Defiler
Hideous Divinity – Adveniens
Inanimate Existence – Underneath a Melting Sky
Shaarimoth – Temple of the Adversarial Fire
Throne of Heresy – Decameron
Amentia – Scourge
Legacy of Emptiness – Over the Past
Dzö-nga – The Sachem’s Tales
Solbrud – Vemod
Ofermod – Sol Nox
HerezA – I Become Death
Svartsyn – In Death
Entrails – World Inferno
Oceano – Revelation
Lorna Shore – Flesh Coffin
Enterprise Earth – Embodiment
Wolfheart – Tyhjyys
Mors Principium Est – Embers of a Dying World
Persefone – Aathma
Benighted – Necrobreed
Gutslit – Amputheatre
Corpse Garden – IAO 269
Falls of Rauros – Vigilance Perennial
Rings of Saturn – Ultu Ulla
Ne Obliviscaris – Urn

Deathcore album of the year: Shadow of Intent – Reclaimer
Technical death metal album of the year: Archspire – Relentless Mutation
Death metal album of the year: Evocation – The Shadow Archetype
Atmospheric black metal album of the year: Solbrud – Vemod
Black metal album of the year: Havukruunu – Kelle Surut Soi
Debut album of the year: Coffin Creep – Corpse Defiler
Best concert I went to in 2017: Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed and Chevelle (Royal Arena, Copenhagen, March 4th)
Five albums I missed but need to listen to:
Necrot – Blood Offerings
Phrenelith – Desolate Endscape
Fit For An Autopsy – The Great Collapse
Azarath – In Extremis
Wolves in the Throne Room – Thrice Woven
Most anticipated album of 2018: Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram

Spectrum of Delusion – Esoteric Entity (Technical Death Metal)

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You can never get too much quality techdeath in your life. Spectrum of Delusion knows this and despite this being a debut album coming from a country that’s not really produced a whole lot of techdeath, namely the Netherlands, this band can rock. Spectrum of Delusion has taken it’s time since their formation in 2013 to produce a debut that will be a great starting point, leaving nothing to chance. One of the bands that basically came from nowhere in my eyes but released a killer techdeath album last year was Virvum and I get a lot of the same vibes when listening to Spectrum of Delusion. Both bands took a long time in order to release their debut (granted Virvum took way longer) and both have done really well to release a debut that shakes up the scene, gaining a lot of new fans and leaving people wanting more. Mission accomplished.

Esoteric Entity might not offer anything you haven’t heard before but what they do offer is an insanely tight album with few errors. This has been 36 minutes of joy to listen to through and through. However I do feel like the start was a bit slow compared to the ending of the album. The last three tracks on the album Unborn Tragedy, Mixotrophy and Timelines are really great tracks that shows Spectrum of Delusion on form while the first songs were just good. Which in a year where techdeath has really thrived with top releases from Origin, Decrepit Birth and Archspire just to name some won’t break them into the higher tier of things. At the same time though this is the bands first album, a good one at that, and I am sure this will pave the way for even better releases to come in the future. Spectrum of Delusion is a band I will have an extra eye on to see where they go with their next release. For now I am happy with a tight debut that makes me hope they can be the next big thing within the genre.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SpectrumofDelusion
Label: Independent
For fans of: Virvum and Tethys
Favorite song: Unborn Tragedy
Score: 3.5/5

Inanimate Existence – Underneath a Melting Sky (Technical Death Metal)

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I never really went on board the hype train for Inanimate Existence when Calling From a Dream came out last year. I understand why people were loving their stuff as it was a bit different than most techdeath and they are great musicians but it just wasn’t for me (especially the clean vocals I couldn’t get passed). Due to that I wasn’t really expecting too much from Underneath a Melting Sky.

Oh boy was I wrong (again, see Archspire review) though! Inanimate Existence have once again made lineup changes, this time I think it really made them hit the spot for me though. Gone are the clean vocals, it’s heavier than their last album and in general just appeals to me way more than Calling From a Dream ever did. Sure they might not stick out as much as they did before and are now closer to bands like Hideous Divinity, Rivers of Nihil or Beyond Creation but to me that’s nothing wrong because that’s the type of techdeath I enjoy listening to. Forever to Burn and the title track Underneath a Melting Sky instantly makes me change my views on the band and are miles better than any song I’ve heard from them before in all honesty. The whole album melts (pun intended) together well as the songs transition flawlessly.

I am really happy to hear a band that I once didn’t enjoy listening to have now released an album I spin regularly. All within a year! 2017 has turned out to be an insane year for techdeath, I feel like I need to review and change how I grade this genre as there has been so many high quality albums the top scores just keeps pouring in compared to last year. That probably tell more about how lucky we are as fans of the genre than my grading though. Inanimate Existence offers us another album to add for our collection of technical death metal.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheInanimateExistence
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Inanimatetweets
Label: The Artisan Era
For fans of: Rivers of Nihil and Beyond Creation
Favorite song: Underneath a Melting Sky
Score: 4/5

Archspire – Relentless Mutation (Technical Death Metal)

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Archspire is a band which first got me into techdeath together with Revocation, Beyond Creation, Nile and the likes only a couple years ago. With that said I’ve never truly got into them, not as much as with Beyond Creation for example who I rate as the best techdeath band there is. However Relentless Mutation has changed me. This album alone have made me go from liking the band as they were one of the first bands I heard from the genre, to a band I know will call myself a fan of.

I already knew I would change my view on them as the singles they released were all top class techdeath. The opener Involuntary Doppelgänger I’ve heard countless of times by now and when it kickstarted this album I still find myself enjoying it. The album keeps on blasting me with sheer force, world class riffs and a trip around the universe unlike any other. Any song on this album would be a good pick for my favorite song section, because in all fairness they are all of insanely high techdeath quality but they are a couple songs that sticks out. It’s the albums title track Relentless Mutation that wins it for me in the end. The tempo-changes and musicianship shown on that track makes every single hormone in my body that produces happiness.

Archspire have blown me away and as someone who haven’t really seen the greatness in them before this is a big surprise. It will be really hard for me to pick the best techdeath album this year between Decrepit Birth’s Axis Mundi and Archspire’s Relentless Mutation. Both masterpieces in their own rights that should be in any metalheads collection.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Archspireband
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Archspireband
Label: Season of Mist
For fans of: Beyond Creation and Spawn of Possession
Favorite song: Relentless Mutation
Score: 5/5

Deity – Deity (Technical Death Metal)

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Deity were formed by the duo and long time friends Danny Alessandro and John Massey about 15 years ago (!). They have since then worked on material, letting it grow until they felt it was good enough to be released to the world. Personally I am glad they did as they seem to have unleashed the Deity in a pure form of metal.

The intro is a sweet symphony that doesn’t make you think about death metal at all, since it’s simply beautiful, and I was wondering if I really did listen to death metal act Deity. Beginning of Extinction brings the chaos right to my ears though on song number two and now I feel right at home. Take a bit of Suffocation, smidge of Gorguts and top it off with Death then you got the main influences in the sound of Deity. Lovers of technical riffs, no clean singing and shredding beware as this is an album made for you, the way Deity themselves would like it to sound. The album is filled with great solos and riffs that you can’t stand still on and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see this Canadian (again a great techdeath band from Canada) duo live on stage as a supporting act to the likes of Gorguts, Cryptopsy or Archspire. Or why not even do it with other up and coming bands like Samskaras and Fractal Generator. Would be sweet lineups!

I think this album rocks. Anything from the instrumental songs From Which We Came, We Now Return, the acoustic In Time to the shredding tunes of Rituals is a joy for my ears. Favorite tracks on the album being Beginning of Extinction, Rituals and Illuminate the Unwilling.

Deity’s self-titled debut is out June 2nd as a independent release.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DeityMetalCA
For fans of: Suffocation and Gorguts
Favorite song: Beginning of Extinction

Hideous Divinity – Adveniens (Technical/Brutal Death Metal)

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Guess what? There is a third good album that came out April 28th! Hideous Divinity is a band I am sure many of you are familiar with. Being formed in 2007 (in Norway actually) and featuring two ex-Hour of Penance back then they took the brutal technical death metal scene by storm. Since then quite a few lineup changes have happened, one were Mauro Mercurio (ex-Hour of Penance) left forcing Enrico Schettino to rebuild. That didn’t stop him nor the band though as the debut album and sophomore received much praise from the metal community. Adveniens has been on many peoples minds when thinking what album can be a contender for best techdeath album this year.

What strikes me straight away is the punishing drums that keeps on hammering your skull. Enrico hasn’t lost his touch on the guitar either as he has yet another really strong performance. Stefano Franceschini on bass (Aborted) adds a lot of heavyness with his bass play, as expected from a man with his caliber and he already showed it on Cobra Verde, this time he is even better though. There is a lot here that you can hear have the roots from Hour of Penance, which isn’t a bad thing since it’s one of my favorite bands when it comes to techdeath. Ages Die starts off violent with some of the best work Hideous Divinity has done. Hard to top that you would think right? Be sure as hell they do though! Passages starts off slow (one of the few times you get to breath on the album) and it features several different “passages” throughout the song, showcasing a lot of different aspect to their music. The song got a bit of a Nile touch to it that way (I’ve always loved how they change tempos) and it sticks out for me.

All in all this is a great album. Hideous Divinity is definitely one of the best technical death metal bands going, having released three solid albums now. Getting slightly better with each one. Italy might just have Europe’s best techdeath scene right now with Septycal Gorge, Deceptionist (featuring two ex-Hideous Divinity members), Hour of Penance and Hideous Divinity all released top albums these past three years. And they don’t look like they are slowing down either!

Adveniens is out now through Unique Leader Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hideousdivinity
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/HideousDivinity
For fans of: Hour of Penance and Nile
Favorite song: Passages