The Pennsylvania based technical death metal titans Rivers of Nihil have returned with their 4th studio album ‘The Work.’ As a massive death and progressive metal fan, this latest offering completely blew me away.
It incorporates the perfect blend of technical death metal brutality and the intricate detailing of progressive metal. Jake Dieffenbach displays his powerful vocal ability and range, frequently alternating between clean and gutteral vocals. The guitars are both crisp and dirty, the bass is heavy, the drums are relentless and the fabled saxophone is back. That’s right newcomers, I said saxophone. Trust me when I say it works (pun intended).
The Work opens with the dark and ambient The Tower. It lulls you in softly with Dieffenbach’s clean and haunting vocals before ambushing you with sheer ferocity. This sets the transition into Dreaming Black Clockwork perfectly which takes no prisoners from the onset. Its industrial undertones hit you full force in the face before shifting into a more progressive saxophone based interlude and back again which is a common theme throughout the record. This offsets the groove/classic rock elements of the following track ‘Wait.’
In my opinion, the 4th track ‘Focus’ is the anthem of the record and is a personal favourite of mine. The keys/synth carry this track providing an addictively dark atmosphere complementing the heavy drums and the mixed vocals. It drew me right in, it’s catchy and it took all my willpower to listen to the rest of the record as I kept going back to it.
Clean, The Void From Which No Sound Escapes and MORE? constantly shifts and transitions between synthy prog and brutal epicness to that fabled saxophone and back again. There is so much to unpack from these tracks but at the same time they are not overloaded to the point of absurdity.
Naturally, progressive metal albums can come with a filler track or two. Sometimes it’s needed, other times it’s not. In this case, Tower 2 is not needed considering the last 3 tracks of the album are so vast and sprawling yet intense and beautiful. Particularly ‘Episode’ which features guest vocals from Black Crown Initiate’s James Dorton. However, Tower 2 ends before you even realise it has begun therefore I believe it’s not really needed and serves little more than a distraction.
The overall theme of the album is in the name. No matter where you come from, what your background is or what your experiences are, there is a great deal of work that goes on behind the scenes in order to achieve your desired results. The lyrics throughout this album make this abundantly clear.
I completely vibe with this album and the more you listen to it, the more detail you pick up that had been missed before.
I give this a solid 9/10.
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