Let Rivers of Nihil Ensnare You With the Beauty of ‘Where Owls Know My Name’
Pennsylvania's Rivers of Nihil formed nearly 10 years ago and have emerged as one of the most promising prog acts in extreme metal. They're set to make the leap with their third effort, Where Owls Know My Name, and the quintet has aligned with Loudwire to bring you the sweeping, epic title track.
There's a delicate balance between the song's lighter, more atmospheric and chips-in classic prog tactics (with loads of emotive sax), which slip perfectly into lunging, sludgy riffs à la Neurosis. The moods volley with the more extreme moments taking the back seat, allowing Rivers of Nihil to get loose with their sonic textures as they look to cement themselves as the heirs to the regal death-prog throne.
“On the title track of ‘Where Owls Know My Name’, we really let out a different side of our musical personality that nobody has ever seen from us before," begins guitarist Brody Uttley. "This song in many ways feels like the perfect culmination of everything that we were, everything that we are, and everything that we will come to be. Our long time friend Andy Thomas from Black Crown Initiate also contributed some fantastic vocal lines to this track.”
Where Owls Know My Name drops on March 16 on Metal Blade and you can snag your copy of the album at the label's webstore. Now, check out our interview with Uttley below.
Interview With Rivers of Nihil's Brody Uttley
You're a big classic prog guy and I can hear elements of bands like King Crimson ("I Talk to the Wind") at the end of "Where Owls Know My Name." When writing this song, which elements came first - the heavier parts of the more ethereal moments and how did it grow from there?
I would definitely say that the quieter and more ethereal moments came first. The first thing that I wrote for this song was the guitar line that opens and closes the track. From there I built on that same riff by adding various delay effects, countermelodies, and atmospheric textures. After realizing that most of this track has a very rock 'n' roll feel to it with few metal elements I knew that I had to come up with a big, catchy, and heavy chorus that would amp up the tone a bit. After coming up with the chorus riff I basically just strung everything together and sort of added and subtracted to/from the song as needed.
The saxophone, mellotron, acoustic guitars, and clean vocals definitely add a really cool vibe to this song that I don't think we've ever had before as a band. This song definitely has a good dose of our less "metal" influences including (as you said) King Crimson.
With your own studio, do you find it tough to decide when a song is finished? You can spend an eternity tinkering with things - how do you know when to step away from the song for good?
When I first started recording my own music it was definitely a challenging thing to let certain stuff go. I used spend weeks on one part of a song and totally lose my inspiration because of the option paralysis that I was experiencing. Nowadays I like to strike while the iron is hot and commit to my moves after one or two revisions.
Usually I will write an entire song and then send it off to our bassist Adam Biggs who will give me his objective opinion. We have a pretty good system worked out and we almost never have to change a song more than once or twice. I think that making too many revisions to a piece of music can end up driving the artist too far from the original source of their inspiration.
How has having your own studio changed your approach to songwriting? Do you write any parts with special effects in mind regarding the mix (cool left to right pans, etc)?
I think its safe to say that having access to my own studio setup 24/7 has become an irreplaceable part of our writing process. It allows me to actually visualize the layout of a song by looking at the different waveforms on the screen. We used to write together as a full band at practice and sometimes that process would yield songs that had poor arrangements and very little additional textures. By writing these songs alone in my studio I can try multiple arrangements, different layers of instrumentation, and unique effects all by simply moving things around with my mouse. Having access to a full library of instruments and effects has definitely taken my songwriting to a new level and helped us to create the true "Rivers of Nihil sound."
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