Rivers Of Nihil
The Work

My top 3 most anticipated albums of 2021 were Gojira, Wolf King, and Rivers of Nihil. I may also be forgetting some. However, Gojira was massively disappointing, Wolf King exceeded my expectations, and Rivers of Nihil probably have no chance of a reaching the heights I believe this band can achieve.

So, it’s already clear I dig these guys. I saw them live a while back in the before times when they had an onstage saxophone player, my girlfriend at the time fell asleep (we both had really long days), and they played masterpiece Where Owls Know My Name in full. After the album was played, Jake Dieffenbach so politely asked us; “Do you want some more music?”

The answer then and now, from these guys, is a “yes.” So, I jumped into this promo with zero hesitation. As you should with the album… and this danged review.

The first track is the theme, but it’s not just ambient sound as you’ll frequently hear with intros. There are excellent clean vocals as well as some harsh ones, and it segues well into the first official track “Dreaming Black Clockwork.”  If you’ve heard their previous work, you already know this band doesn’t exactly sit still, but to begin the album, I must admit this track works in the context of it, but it’s definitely a slow build with some deathcore rhythms.

It feels as though the previously mentioned tracks, as well as the next two, “Wait” and “Focus,” respectively, are all part of one track/whole. It moves so well together it’s almost impossible to play one and not play the others. One of the first singles “Clean” follows, and if you’ve already heard it, you know its power. However, these first few songs are the build-up before this album really gets moving.

On that note, one of the questions that will get asked inevitably is; “Where’s the sax?” Don’t you worry, friend. It’s here. “The Void From Which No Sound Escapes” has your back, and it’s the very next track. After a somewhat heavier track, nearly 5 minutes in, the sax appears at the front and acts as the main instrument during the bridge until the end of the track.

Almost every track could be mentioned in the review, but I am only going to throw out a few more, I promise. Firstly, I’ll mention the heaviness and the line “I hope it fucking kills you,” which gets me every time from “MORE?” This is complete contrast to the shoegaze, almost dream pop vibe of “Maybe One Day,” which is right before the closer.

That closer is titled “Terrestria IV: Work,” which is no surprise, considering the presence of I-III on their previous albums. However, this is a monster. A 10-plus minute monster, which does not feel like 10 minutes. Of course, that’s ideal because most longer songs on the end of an album irk me. This one doesn’t. It’s well executed and includes a reprise of the chorus from an earlier track, which you’ll definitely pick up.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. This album is over an hour long, so, fuck… That’s usually a dealbreaker for me. However… the runtime for The Work flies by. There are a ton of ideas and in my mind, they have successfully built upon the success of Where Owls Know My Name. This is a triumph, from start to finish. For anyone wishing or hoping they would go backwards or possibly go back to their less progressive side from earlier releases, you will be disappointed. It will be on many year-end lists, including my own. I just hope, dear reader, by the time you read this, my box set has arrived. As of this moment, it hasn’t even shipped, but at least I can listen to it in the meantime. For those of you not sure, I beg of you, take a listen and; DO. THE WORK!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
September 27th, 2021

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