Where Owls My Name
is an amalgamation of all of progressive metal’s greatest aspects. On their
third album, Pennsylvania’s Rivers of Nihil create a visceral hour driven by
the grunts and guitar tones of Enslaved, the drumming of Gojira, the instrumental
diversity of pre-Animal Shining and
the compositions of latter-day Death.
As a whole, it adds every permutation possible to the death
metal subgenre. Songs like “Old Nothing” and “Hollow” are pure, fast-paced
extreme metal, all laced with pounding rhythms and guttural vocals from
frontman Jake Dieffenbach. These represent Where
Owls Know My Name’s most straight-shooting moments; other tracks “Subtle
Change (Including the Forest of Illusion)”, “The Silent Life” and “Capricorn/Agoratopia”
integrate a slew of more atmospheric interludes through their clean guitars and
reduced tempos, often capped off by a saxophone solo for good measure.
Where Owls Know My
Name is easily Rivers of Nihil’s masterpiece, culminating the increasingly progressive
journey that they first embarked upon with their debut album in 2013. The
overall effect that it will have on these Americans’ career remains to be seen,
but the album itself deserves to enjoy the same reputation as works by Between
the Buried and Me and even Opeth.