With the overwhelming success of 2018’s Where Owls Know My Name, Pennyslvania’s Rivers of Nihil could not have set expectations much higher for a subsequent release. 2021’s The Work proves to be an extremely polarizing album—one which will meet those expectations for some and fall far short for others.
The album is unique in its focus on both simple, clean interludes and extremely avant garde, industrial experimentation. The problem is, both styles miss the mark, and often come off pretentious, relying on mixing techniques and dense layering to create new sounds where inspired melodies might have been. Instead, we are lost in a labyrinth of casual stoner rock and simple, droning riffs that lack the melodic spine that carried Owls so confidently. Though the album is not without its gems, even the more realized tracks feel lost amongst the rest. The one consistent element of the album is the lyrical theme, which we are incessantly badgered with. As a whole, the album is vexing in that it is either overly ambitious, or is far too lazy, with experimentation generating both the truly awesome as well as pitifully dull.
NEVERMORE – “Dead Heart in a Dead World” (Grand Champion Supreme)
GOROD – “Process of a New Decline”
NEVERMORE secure the victory of our mini #missedpicks tournament. They take the championship round 5-3. Nevermore will the haters question their dominance, even though they are a little dated and a little too powery.
Few albums in the pantheon of progressive metal have landed with the splash of 2007’s “Colors,” an eminently original and much celebrated work. Now, 14 years later, BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME have boldly lowered the bucket back into the well, hoping to dredge up a sequel as refreshing as its predecessor. Clearly, the well has not gone dry. “Colors II” will surely sate the thirst of any prog fan, but how does it compare to the original? The characteristics of “II” that elevate it beyond the earlier offering are the same characteristics that hold it back—in a word, consistency. The song writing, performance, and production of “Colors II” are far more consistent. There are no duds, no filler, no blemishes, but alas, less goosebumps. With its superior production, inspired heavy sections and subtle allusions to the 2007 masterpiece, there is so much greatness in this album, but it never achieves the soaring, intoxicating heights of the original.