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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Wastewalker – Funeral Winds (Technical Death Metal)

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Having one of the most brutal album covers I’ve seen this year (lets face it a great album cover means a lot) I instantly got the feeling that Wastewalker – Funeral Winds would be something special. How glad I was that I decided to make Funeral Winds one of my final reviews of the year! Starting of with Hazmat Birth, this is a great introduction on what is to come. The high and low growls, guitar solos, melodical teachnical death performs a sweet symphony of death and it’s not a surprise that I see the band featuring ex members of Conducting From The Grave and Alterbeast. You can tell Wastewalker consists of veterans within the metal community.

The way Wastewalker can switch from death, tech death to progressive in one song is a feat not many bands can pull off. Take Fleshwounds as an example, to me that song is near the complete package of showing different genres, without it feeling forced, in less than 5 minutes. Great stuff from the Americans.

This has been a truely great year for technical death metal. So many new bands making great debut albums and veterans releasing new material where they still showcase greatness. Wastewalker – Funeral Winds is a sick album and even though you might think you’ve had your fill of tech death for a year you would do good not to miss this one as it’s one the best albums coming out this year.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wastewalkermetal
For fans of: The Ritual Aura and Alterbeast
Favorite song: Fleshwounds

Burial in the Sky – Persistence of Thought (Technical Death Metal)

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Burial in the Sky is a project made by the multi-instrumentalists duo, and longtime friends, Will Okronglis and James Tomedi in 2013. Since the formation the duo has released two EP’s with different drummers accompanying them and joining them on Persistence of Thought we have none other than world class drummer Samus Paulicelli (Decrepit Birth, ex-Abigail Wiliams). A very nice addition I have to say.

Persistence of Thought is what I would call Tech Metal done right as it’s intelligent, got both melodic sides to it but also raw and brutal segments that when you blend it together with great song-writing it becomes just something more than music. It becomes your transition into a whole other dimension and it’s just beautiful.

It is hard to pick just one song as my favorite song, since this is an experience meant to be experienced as a whole. I do find one thing easy though, to tell you to pick up this album. Today. Preferably yesterday.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/burialinthesky
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/BurialInTheSky
For fans of: Fallujah and Rivers of Nihil
Favorite song: Dimensons Divide

Virvum – Illuminance (Technical Death Metal)

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Ah Technical Death Metal, a genre that has really shined these last couple of years with great bands such as Black Crown Initiate and Fallujah showing how the heavy technical death metal side can sound if done well. Virvum continues the trend with good tech death metal bands spawning as Illuminance is a debut album worth taking an extra look at with their wicked riffs, solos and simply incredible musicianship overall.

Every song on the album is top notch (making it hard for me to pick a favorite song) and the instrumental play is so great it basically tells a story all on its own. Safe to say the progressive side on the album shines just as much as the death metal side. Which probably has a lot to do with Arran McSporran, De Profundis member, being a part of the band. Illuminance sets the bar very high for other contenders that might want to crown themselves with the “debut album of the year” title. As a side note the cover art is beautiful and really captures the essence of the album.

Illuminance  is an album you just have to listen to and be taken away to the fantastic world of Virvum. You won’t regret it!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/virvum
For fans of: Fallujah and The Faceless
Favorite song: Ad Rigorem

Shokran – Exodus (Progressive Metal)

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This is the first time I ever experience Shokran and the first thing that hits me is that the sound is rather unique to me. These Russians are kind of hard for me to label into a genre since they mix so many, the band themselves call it Groove Prog Metal and I guess that’s one way to put it. Shokran mixes progressive, oriental, death, groove, djent, you name it metal. Closest I can call it is Fallujah goes Egyptian style with Nile, Born of Osiris and Black Crown Initiate or something. Still I think they differ a bit from those bands but they are definitely influenced by them.

Doesn’t matter what genre or label I put on Shokran’s album Exodus as it has hit me like a meteor. It’s simply great and offers a new sound to the metal market. This as an debut full-length album even and after replacing two band members since their EP “Supreme Truth” which came out only two years ago. Well done Shokran on going through that while also releasing one of the best metal albums of the year. You just got yourselves a new fan.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Sh0kran
For fans of: Fallujah and Black Crown Initiate
Favorite song: Praise the Stench (..Of Your Fallen Idols)

The Schoenberg Automaton – Apus (Technical Death Metal)

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Australias The Schoenberg Automaton debut Vela came down as meteor three years ago and laid the foundation of a very promising band. Apus is the bands follow-up album that keeps the very brutal mix of technical death metal and almost atmospheric Fallujah sound blended in a perfect mix. I’ve always been caught by the bands songwriting as to me personally the lyrical theme of the worlds existence and evolution has always had an extra interest and depth in it. The Schoenberg Automaton keeps that up as they take you to a world not too different from ours but makes you question, well everything you thought you knew.

Apus is one hell of an album and if The Schoenberg Automaton keeps releasing this caliber of albums they will just continue to carve their way into being one of Australias biggest extreme metal exports.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheSchoenbergAutomaton
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TSAMetal
For fans of: Man Must Die and Fallujah
Favorite song: Praise The Sun

Lord of War – Suffer (Atmospheric Melodic Death Metal/Deathcore)

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Suffer is a tank of hate going at you with full force. That’s what it feels like when I spend about 50 minutes with the album getting all pumped up. Lord of War’s latest album Suffer is the type of album you listen to when you hit the gym wanting to break a new record or something. It’s just full of energy and you can’t help getting all fueled up by it.

Lord of War has come a long way since their first album Celestial Pestilence, an album I didn’t think too much off with all the deathcore out there. However Suffer has really taken Lord of War forward and they know feel like a band leading the pack. Solid album and a step in the right direction.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lordofwarmetal
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LordofWarMetal
For fans of: Fallujah and The Faceless
Best song: Killing Must Feel Good to God
Score: 8/10