1. Rivers Of Nihl – Where Owls Know My Name
Country: United States
Genre: Technical Death Metal / Progressive Death Metal
Label: Metal Blade Records
Release date: 16th March 2018
Rivers Of Nihil have slowly been turning heads for a while now (the closest we could get to an owl pun!) but few were prepared for the metaphysical Frankenstein that arose from the minds of these 5 men from Pennsylvania.
Tumbling into jazzy, often saxophone-led, melodic temperance and bursts of jazzy grindcore a la Naked City, Rivers Of Nihil were at their best when they cut loose from their Gojira-esque bludgeoning and fully embraced their progressive gonzo nature. This was still technical death metal at heart but that heart was beating to a different beat.
The tick-list of influences was immense. Old-school death metal, the aforementioned technical death metal, elements of djent, the progressive metal of latter-day Death and jazz fusion appeared to inform the cavalcade of cacophonous noise conjured by this talented bunch of bastards.
Gojira comparisons may have loomed large but Rivers Of Nihil remain far more loose in their appropriation of progressive elements, less polished perhaps but, ultimately, more organic than their French peers.
Admittedly, there was a LOT going on here but all instruments were defined with pristine clarity; drums (particularly the blast-beats) were crispier than a bowl of cement-covered Frosties and the combination of anvil heavy guitars and hammering bass formed a crystal clear audio monolith that was topped off by that saxophone.
Honourable mentions (in no particular order): Amorphis – Queen Of Time / Monstrosity – The Passage Of Existence / Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse / Revocation – The Outer Ones / Judas Priest – Firepower / Sleep – The Sciences / Mournful Congregation – The Incubus Of Karma / Dire Peril – The Extraterrestrial Compendium / Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods / Orange Goblin – The Wolf Bites Back / The Crown – Cobra Speed Venom / Bast –Nanoångström / Visigoth – Conqueror’s Oath / Horrendous – Idol / Doomsday Outlaw – Hard Times / The Crawling – Wolves And The Hideous White / Hate Eternal – Upon Desolate Sands / Solstice – White Horse Hill / Obliteration – Cenotaph Obscure / Sacral Rage – Beyond Celestial Echoes / Metal Church – Damned If You Do / Rapture – Paroxysm Of Hatred /Riot V – Armor Of Light / Necrophobic – Mark Of The Necrogram /Slugdge – Esoteric Malacology / Exmortus – The Sound Of Steel / Shakma – House Of Possession / Outre-Tombe – Necrovortex / Blasphemer – Lust Of The Goat / Oxygen Destroyer – Bestial Manifestations of Malevolence and Death / Satan – Cruel Magic / Brainstorm – Midnight Ghost / Tomb Mold – Manor Of Infinite Forms.