The Work is the brand new album by Pennsylvanian Progressive Metallers RIVERS OF NIHIL. It is not strictly a metal album although metal is the dominant genre. Entwined are elements of jazz, easy listening and atmospheric tropes that serve to make something very interesting indeed.
The album begins with The Tower (Theme From The Work) which I inferred to have something to do with Stephen King’s Dark Tower series; this was almost dispelled about five seconds into it. The pacing here is sublime. A slow build and tentative notes that are layered until the air is full but still so light. There are themes that develop here that are later picked up in Tower 2. Together these tracks don’t feel so much as a theme in the sense of a movie soundtrack but rather as a thread pulling the constituent parts together.
Something that becomes apparent to me, as I’m sure it did to those who have listened to the band’s back catalogue, that this idea of pulling multiple disparate ideas together is something that the band quite enjoys playing with. This album features Terrestia IV: Work which follows Thaw, Thrive, and Wither (parts 1, 2 and 3 respectively). The pieces are wild and varied and this new instalment is no different. Contained within its eleven minute run are elements of horror movie soundtrack, fantastical guitar, brutal vocals and sultry saxophone.
Terrestria IV is the final song on this album and this is for good reason. There has been four albums worth of build-up over a span of eight years. This is a beyond satisfactory answer to the question of where this collection is going. However, I suspect that this journey may now be over as we finish on a riff that sounds eerily similar to the one at the start of Terraria I and fades out.
In my time here on this website I’ve reviewed more bands than you would likely think that have a saxophone player. Mostly they have been black metal but occasionally something else comes through. And I’m beginning to develop an appreciation for the instrument within the field of metal. The Void from Which No Light Escapes features heavy riffs on top of interesting polyrhythms, incredible solo breaks and the saxophone all coming together into one grand conflagration of themes. It’s truly exciting to listen to it and just let yourself be swept along in the journey.
The Work is a joyful masterpiece, and I’d strongly recommend it but I can’t tell you what to expect. There are far too many themes here and simply saying to expect this or that would be to discount much of what makes it what it is. It’s like a conversation in a busy café. Yes, the conversation itself may be the focus, it may even be the draw but would it be the same if it were in a quiet library? The clatter of plates, the hum of the voices of others, the bursts of the coffee machine all serve to make something endearing. Simply put The Work is a magnificent progressive metal album that contains a multitude of interesting factors and I would implore anyone to listen to it and find out the rest for themselves.
Words: Jacob McCrone
The Work is out now.
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