Rivers Of Nihil- Where Owls Know My Name…..Best of 2018?

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Rivers of Nihil has been an underrated force in death metal in the modern age.  Their last album “Monarchy” was a modern day death metal masterpiece with sweet artwork to boot. What makes the Pennsylvania natives stand out more and more is their lack of concern what people think of their music.  R.O.N is out to make very obscure music in a fairly repetitive genre.  What makes “Where Owls Know My Name” a top release in my eyes very early in 2018 is their increased willingness to experiment……leading off, heavy use of saxophone throughout the album.  Yeah…..a big instrument in Jazz music used in death metal. Tacky, right? Not even close! It’s used perfectly to omit the greatest mood changes throughout the songs on the album.  Background instrument? No way, man. We’re talking about up close and personal….saxophone leads!

What else does their latest album also offer? Jake Dieffenbach sings on “Where Owls Know My Name” as well! The band’s first two albums were primarily growled, but the band threw some great curveballs for their third full length.  Andy from Black Crown Initiate (another grossly underrated progressive death metal band) sang lead vocals on the title track, as well.  This also marks the band’s new drummer Jared Klein as his first album he’s recorded with the band.  Guitarist Brody shines on this album as bright as the sun itself…..it’s awfully tough to put his efforts into words.

There’s also some occasional trumpets and acoustic guitars scattered throughout the album as well……..and even some keyboard/synthesizer parts as well.  Don’t let all of these experimental ideas and non traditional death metal elements turn anyone away.  The album is still plenty heavy for any metalhead no way has the band ditched its death metal roots.  The album has flawless production, as well.  I swear it checks every single box off on what was expected, and then some.

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The latest band photo was shot near a river….. No really, it was.

 

Rivers of Nihil delivers quite possibly the coolest and most complete album of 2018. I can’t say how happy I am the great coverage this album has gotten so far….this band has flown far under the radar for so long its about time people have woken up.  The album art is freaking amazing as well. I love unusual and creepy covers. There’s also some occasional electronics which weren’t prevalent before. “Where Owls Know My Name” is just perfect on every level……there is absolutely no weaknesses.  The worst part of the album is when its over…..good thing there’s the repeat option.

After you listen to the whole album buy the sonofabitch.

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Aaron Marshall of Intervals

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Aaron Marshall the creative mind of his instrumental band “Intervals” based out of Toronto, Ontario.  If you’re a guitarist and also an instrumental freak like myself, you should know who Aaron/Intervals is.  His latest album catapulted its way onto my best of 2017 list for a million reasons.  His guitar work captivates me because generically his music is instrumental but has so many influences you can’t really put a finger on what Aaron’s style is……that is the type of artist or band TMR strives to support and promote. His sound is very heavy, yet also very melodic poppy and experimental….it drags you in and just can’t let go.

Aaron is a one man wrecking crew who has such a unique style.  He isn’t a big shredder, a show off or a simple player…..his creative mind is like no other.

Impusively Responsible guitar play through

 

He is such a tasteful player, it blows my mind.  What amazes me about instrumental bands is their awesome knack (in most cases) for composing.  Certain artists mess around too much and not focus on the song as a whole.  Lots of showing off in the genre which tends to get boring at times.  Aaron on the other hand, is a phenomenal writer that never bores you.

Touch and Go guitar play through

This song is my favorite from the latest album.  I believe its a solid example of the man’s diversity as an artist and guitar player.  He has such a great ear for melody and harmony it’s easy to get lost in his music.  It has a cool mellow section with some keys/synth and clean guitar tone with a beautiful melody to accompany that part of “Touch And Go”.

Mata Hari guitar play through

Here’s a fun ripper for the metalheads.  Younger Aaron had more of a metal edge to his playing and writing….and then branched out in the last few years experimenting more with his style.  In general Aaron has such a diverse and interesting catalogue it can catch anyone’s ears honestly.

Having artists like Aaron around make life greater for everyone.  He’s been on some great tours recently one at the end of 2017 in Europe with Nick Johnston and Polyphia.  He recently just finished a North American run with Nick Johnston (again!), Jason Richardson and Night Verses.  Also was just announced as a part of the HEAVY MONTREAL lineup this summer as well (an amazing step for instrumental bands!).  How cool is that?!?!

 

Aaron deserves all the success he is having and keeps continuing to grow as an artist and guitar player.  Don’t slack on this guy’s music.

Intervals on the Interwebs

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Nyktomorph

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Nyktomorph is an extreme metal band from Buffalo, New York.  These guys are so heavy…..it’s like they can’t get any heavier.  They have a combined black metal and death metal influence.  Sonically they’re absolutely blistering…..I love their vocals.  Very raw, and very energetic.

The band has a 3 song EP that was just recently released at the end of January.  I bet you these guys put on one heck of a live show…..I really got into their music quickly.  This band really makes you want to separate your shoulder and injure your neck.

The layered keyboards adds to the mystic and haunting elements of the blackened death metal genre.  They definitely aren’t for the weak willed or commercial metal lovers….they’ll blow your minds.  The drumming is very intense and well constructed that stands out throughout their music.

I have to say this band can make its way into my rotation the more I listen to them.  Check out this band stay up to date on their releases and any shows they may be up to.

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https://nyktomorph.bandcamp.com/releases

https://www.facebook.com/NyktomorphNY/

Thanks for everything Frank Mullen!

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The face…..the sound…..the epitome of legendary death metal band Suffocation Frank “The Tank” Mullen who has been the band’s only vocalist (minus fill ins since 2012 on tour when he picked up a full time job that demands lots of hours) in its 30+ year existence.  That is old as myself……holy crap. Anyways, he posted a video on his Facebook fan page stating a tour at the end of this year will be his last with the band who knows if he might just stay on to record albums.  We unfortunately know he’s done with shows but maybe just be a part of the albums from here on out……but if he can’t handle that anymore, personally I want to thank the man for everything he has done for such an obscure genre of heavy metal.  Suffocation was one of the first bands that got me into death metal outside of other legendary acts such as Obituary, Death, Morbid Angel, Possessed and later on Decapitated.

He was never a slacker at all……he helped put together some of the most memorable albums in death metal.  “Effigy Of The Forgotten”, “Pierced From Within”, “Breeding The Spawn” and “Human Waste” ring any bells metalheads? The latest offering “Of The Dark Light” is also turning into another Suffocation classic as well.

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What set apart Mullen apart from your average extreme metal vocalist wasn’t his talent or poise…..but his admirable personality.  He had serious fun in an extremely unprofitable genre. He was very funny and uplifting, which you wouldn’t expect out of an average frontman for a death metal band.  Would he be in this long haul for it? Death Metal doesn’t pay the bills folks, lets be real.  That’s what came down to it all for Frank…..and he did it for as long as you could.  This is why its super important to support the music you’re into especially if its obscure and not popular…..theres lots of financial trouble.  Suffocation being one of the best death metal bands since the genre’s beginning in the later part of the 1980’s is still very lucky to be able to do what they love to do.

As a native of the Buffalo region in New York, I have a closer bond to the guys in Suffocation (who originated in Long Island….close enough, same state right?). I remember seeing the band at the old Club Infinity in Williamsville when they released “Blood Oath” when the classic lineup was together for the millionth time….

Frank Mullen- vocals

Terrence Hobbs- guitars

Guy Marchias- guitars

Derek Boyer- Bass

Mike Smith- Drums

Sadly that was the only time I saw Mullen, but also the only time I saw Mike Smith (another favorite drummer of mine in the death metal game) who left and joined the band countless times. I wasn’t totally into the genre then, and one local band (I forgot who) may have been on the bill and stayed late enough to check them out. I was just getting past Between the Buried & Me and Lamb Of God vocally I wasn’t always into growling so it took getting used to.  Good god, they kicked my ass.  Not just the sweet shred work of death metal’s best guitar duo but Frank’s insane amount of energy that catapulted the band to one of the best performances I’ve seen of any band.

Some of my favorite Suffocation tracks:

Clarity Through Deprivation

Thrones Of Blood

Redemption

Pierced From Within

 

From the bottom of my heart…..thanks for everything Mr. Mullen. You fronted one of the greatest death metal bands, and one of the most underrated metal bands in general (should be up in the same legions as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest go ahead fight me!).  Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts on Frank and the band. Hail Suffocation. Hail Frank.

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Thomas Gerwitz- Another Place In Time

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Tom is a progressive rock artist out of Buffalo, New York.  He has released a full length album “Blackwell” before this EP was recently released. I’ve followed his progress initially through his progressive death metal band Eira which is awesome by the way.

He has come a long way as an artist, vocally especially.  To be honest, like any artist we learn from mistakes and valuable lessons along the way……there’s much worse singers out there and wasn’t the greatest to begin with.  After the Era EP and full length I noticed on “Blackwell” his voice got much better and his ear for melody was improving.  His vocals sounded much richer and pronunciations were a big improvement compared to previous offerings.  There’s lots of great music along the way, as well.  Blackwell was very progressive as well, but definitely heavier.  It had some cool guitar riffs and very melodic leads along with very cool artwork.  This time around though, it was a lot mellower and acoustically dominated with some electric guitar thrown in here and there.  I personally love the added keyboard and synth patches that enhance the moods at times.

Another Place In Time is a standout release for Tom, and clocks in just around 31 minutes for the three songs “Nostalgia”, “Naissance” and “Nadir” in that exact order.  It’s well written EP all around.  Everyone can only hope he keeps continuing on the same path, and even getting better along the way.  Maybe he can put a band together and play some shows? Maybe Eira can come back from the dead as well?

You can listen to all of Tom’s music on his Bandcamp…..after you listen, don’t be a jerk and buy the music.

Also, you can go to the Eira Bandcamp to listen to their music…….and then buy it……wink, wink 😉

 

Who knows what the future holds.  All I know is that it is very bright.

Pestilent Reign- Pyres

Pestilent Reign is a technical/groove death metal band from Germany.  “Pyres” is slated to be released on March 16th with two EP’s to the band’s credits.   The debut full length is extremely important to a new band but in this case is extremely groundbreaking.  Pyres starts out with a line from Alex Jones….you know it’s going to be one hell of a ride.

The technicality from Pestilent Reign is downright filthy…..like Dying Fetus groovy. This is not an exaggeration.  The guitar work is out of this world……a great mix of heavy rhythm and melody.  It isn’t too fancy, and far from boring…..it should make any guitarist smile ear to ear.  The drumming is very heavy and straightforward.

Gutter’s Filth

The theme and lyrics behind the album are very generic yet very real.  The band’s goal was to expose human idiocy, religious bigotry and injustice…..all 3 very real issues in this world.  Can you blame someone being fed up with such travesties? Not at all.  I think it’s fresh to see popular issues in this world talked (growled, in this case) about in the extreme world rather than random grotesque unimportant song titles.

Martyr

Pestilent Reign is here to melt faces and make your necks hurt for days on end.  Pyres is a stellar debut and only can go up from here.  There is untapped and unlimited potential in this band.  The vocalist seems to have unlimited energy…..the whole band itself is relentless.  If you don’t get a shot of adrenaline from this band then you must definitely be of another planet.

I hope you enjoy the two songs and preorder the album before its release date.  It would mean a lot to the guys especially starting out.  Any bands sales in their first week are important to a new release…..don’t wait and get your hands on this record ASAP.

Rising Nemesis Records Store: http://risingnemesisrecords.bigcartel.com/product/pestilent-reign-pyres-cd-pre-order
Bandcamp: https://risingnemesisrecords.bandcamp.com/album/pyres
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Apple Music    https://apple.co/2CObAY3
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Google Play    http://bit.ly/2CKI4AS
iTunes Pre-Order Link    https://apple.co/2CMcFPW
Apple Music Pre-Order Link   https://apple.co/2CObAY3
https://www.facebook.com/Pestilentreign/
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Between The Buried & Me- Automata

 

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Between The Buried and Me have released another spectacular piece of music titled “Automata” an EP.  The rumor has it there is more on the way, the other half to be released around summertime this year.  BTBAM has never disappointed and has only evolved every album they have progressed.  Since the “Parallax” series and the last full length “Coma Ecliptic” the band has progressed into a greater understanding of melody, more singing and more experimentation.  BTBAM has been always very heavy, but lately tailed off in that sense and added many more keyboard and synthesizer parts.  More acoustic and clean guitar tones occasionally, and some string work and more singing as well.  The band can not do any wrong…..but what brought a smile to my face was the heaviness that hasn’t really been around the infamous “Colors” and “Alaska” era…..the heaviest of the heavy for the North Carolina gentlemen.

BTBAM is the epitome of modern day progressive metal, and in general one of the best storytellers lyrically and musically which enhances the stories being told.  They have taken a liking to concept albums starting with the aforementioned “Parallax” EP and full length continuing with “Coma Ecliptic”. Lyrically it seems with “Automata” there is another concept about dreaming and reality.  They are not a dull band and wow you more than just musically there’s some cool vocal melodies, lyrical themes and melodies as well.

Automata is not a departure of any sorts.  Some fans may not be happy with the experimentation they have been doing on the last few releases, but whats the point of releasing the same material every time? Automata is a great start to hopefully the other half is just as promising.  There’s great drumming, bass lines and guitar duals all over the new album.  I can’t honestly say enough good things about Automata.

 

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Æpoch Song Premeire

Æpoch is a technical death metal band from Canada that is releasing its debut album “Awakening Inception” on Friday April 13th. The band released its first single from the album today titled “Tabula Rasa”.

So many great progressive and technical death metal bands are coming out of the great white north…..is that a new trend? If this single doesn’t convince you to preorder their debut album, well then…..what is there to say? Enjoy this shredly single from Æpoch.

Tabula Rasa

Pre-orders for Awakening Inception can be found at the following links:
https://aepochmetal.bandcamp.com/​
http://aepochmetal.bigcartel.com/

Æpoch: 
Greg Carvalho – Drums (Brazen Bull, ex Ostium Nex, live for Becomes Astral)
Brett MacIntosh – 5 string Fretless Bass / Lead Vocals (Brazen Bull)
Kyle Edissi – Guitar / Backing Vocals (on “Time: Perspective” & “The Expiration”) (Invicta, Raider)
Taylor Wroblewski – Guitar (Brazen Bull)

www.facebook.com/AepochMetal
https://www.youtube.com/user/AepochMetal
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Augury- March 2018 Interview

The first ever completed interview for Technical Music Review was conducted with Canadian Technical Death Metal wizards Augury.  The band is promoting their upcoming release “Illusive Golden Age”.  The band has had two prior releases to their upcoming release…..”Concealed” in 2004 and “Fragmentary Evidence” in 2009.

TMR: How was the songwriting different for Illusive Golden Age compared to Fragmentary Evidence or Concealed?

(Patrick Loisel- Vocals and Guitar) 

It wasn’t that different. We used the same ingredients and strategies, but perhaps in different proportions. We mostly write arrangements over each other’s riffs, that unless the composer has a specific harmony in mind or else. We don’t come with sheet music and go “Play this!”. Each song had its own modus operanti when it comes to composition. 
Some songs were written live in rehearsals, some others were studio work, you really have every way possible.


TMR: What is the meaning behind your band name?

I was inpired by some texts about the Salem Witch Trial, and then people with unusual insight or knowledge would be rounded up and accused with the “felony of augury”. Basically it means “forbidden knowledge’ It also means foreseeing the future from signs in nature but the prediction side of it came by accident; still it fits nonetheless. On previous albums, I hinted at the fact that history repeats. 
I went full force with this one. I happen to be a historian, and it’s a bit like a weather forecast but for human behaviour. We have patterns that keep returning, so we can sometimes predict how thing will go.

TMR: There were huge gaps between your albums….you guys didn’t have a drummer for a while. Did any of you feel down or felt like the band may have been done?

We all had our downs and everybody once left, but not simultaneously, and everybody ended coming back. We simply love this band too much and, most important, we were friends prior to its inception. The one thing that was harsh was the pressure to tour circa 2008-2010 and the ensuring financial and personnal recovery. We all moved several times, re-located the studio many times, lost data, got anything beside a nuclear war! We are also extremely busy.

TMR: How tough is it to carry on artistically and chemistry wise as a band with many lineup changes? It took a while to find stability in your lineup.

We kept rebulding it relentlessly, and it wasn’t that much of a problem since we stayed within the same bunch of friends. We only ditched the opera vocals after the first album;if you take a look at the rest, it’s the same instrumentalists, only Antoine recorded the drums rather than Etienne on this one. Antoine and Etienne are friends; when we had Seb and Chris on bass in 2010, Forest helped them with the songs, family stuff. What gave this impression is that we had a different touring rhythm section for each of our 09-10 tours, but that was the situation then. The three original composers are back together, so everything resumed naturally.

TMR: There’s a very original sound here…..some bands in the technical death metal and progressive death metal genres tend to sound similar. How do you guys keep on that path of originality? It’s very unique.

Thank you!! Well, it’s funny, and perhaps it’s the actual reason…we play what we like and don’t do it on purpose to sound “technical death metal”, and I actually don’t listen to it much. I am a black metal freak, I love Portal and post-black metal and some ethnic stuff. On the other hand I love Babymetal and Banghra pop music from India! The other members exhibit a similar dichotomy in musical choices, and each of us could go for long with contradictory tastes. The technical death metal we initially listened to the most when we started was French band Symbyosis, Anata and lots of local bands such as Obliveon , Gorguts, Cryptopsy and Martyr.

TMR: How did you score one of the best bass players in the scene in Dominic? You guys know you have a tech death prodigy in your band…..right? Haha

Forest is a founding member of Augury and our original bass player since the beggining back in 2002. We actually met 20 years ago and I remember seeing him live with one of his old bands in the mid 90’s. He came back, but everyone talks like if he joined for the very first time. That is hilarious! We did score him…before everyone else! 
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TMR: What feels different this time around with “Illusive Golden Age” compared to your first two albums in general? Writing style, production, producers, different recording style or technology…..anything applies. 
(Patrick- Vocals and Guitar)
We wrote pretty much the same way than with the two others ; I would say that ”Illusive”  sits halfway between both since we wanted a more organic production and perhaps more gloomy ambiances. One big difference is that we recorded it ourselves. Antoine recorded the drums at his studio and Mat recorded everything else with me handling the comp while Mat was recoding his parts. Thus I learned ”space bar…3”! But actually I couldn’t turn on Pro-Tools. Mat had to show me.
Mat and myself even built an isolated booth to prevent my vocals from scaring neighbours!
TMR: Have you guys learned anything from your first two albums and recording your latest full length?
Personnaly I would say that we learned to turn our backs from pressures and standards, and do things our way. It is the first album where I am fully satisfied with every detail and have no regrets. And I mean it’s like my 10th recording and I am in my late-40’s!!!  We once got imposed a mastering that we disliked, and image that wasn’t us, covers that had nothing to do with the lyrical content.  Another thing was that being realistic, and stopping to pretend we could live off music one day was kind of liberating. I feel bad for those bands who have to pump out new songs in order to have new material because a tour is coming, or who have to alter their songwriting to fit into a trend. Those days are over.
TMR: You were on Nuclear Blast at one point I saw…..big metal label.  What happened? If you feel comfortable answering this….if not you guys can skip this question.
Well the American side of it treated us very well and did their best to help. Sadly, the main entity in Europe saw us as lesser priority. When we started with them it was all about being squeezed in a mold and getting pressures to drop everything in order to tour all the time. I was shopping for a house, I was about to get married etc. and got told to forget all about it since I will tour all year long. My other commitments were disregarded as childish tantrums and everything crumbled… I still pay debts from the 2009 tours. Luckily I was able to start over and resume my teaching career. Lots of people would have quit being in this situation in their 20’s, I was 40! The fact that I still do music nowadays have people scratch their heads. Stubborn is my middle name!
TMR: How do you guys like The Artisan Era so far? I wrote a feature on them recently and I love a lot of the bands they signed…..and you guys are no exception.
Well, this is like night and day. Specifically, I am an artisan myself (build custom guitars at home) and I just dig the overall attitude and values. The staff and associated bands are cool and funny, whatever I can glimpse from that bunch makes me want to take a plane and go party with them.  They are into content rather than pompous gimmicks. I am out of words to say it properly but it’s like that label was made for us.
TMR: Do you guys have any shows coming up to support Illusive Golden Age? 
First we do Eastern Canada in April and May. Then we will see what is within reach for short stints since we are not available for long tours since we are still solidifying our professional situations. We will see if in the future if we can make ourselves available a bit longer. Fact is : The less pressure we put on ourselves over this, the more likely it will happen.
TMR: If any of you have any other projects or art you want to promote feel free to link them here and chat about them here.
Mathieu is about to finish a new Humanoid album that took him years to record. It’s like a monument of a billion tracks. Forest and Antoine are involved in enough band to fill a top 10. As for myself, I wrote a small book to explain the obscure references behind the lyrics. I am also training on drums and intend to record a few solo albums in the next few years. I save my guitar ideas for Augury, so whenever I play with someone else it’s always on drums. I also wrote a few drum parts on ”Illusive” and filmed myself with a cellphone to show them to Antoine. He took it to another level, like you give him a kite and he makes a space shuttle out of it. BTW Antoine also plays additionnal solos on the album. He totally outshines me as a soloist!
Here are a few tracks the band have put online before Illusive Golden Age is released.  If you haven’t preordered already, you should stop slacking and get on it. Enjoy these killer tracks. This album is set to release officially on March 30th.
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Start The Reactor

Start The Reactor is an experimental math core band from Albany, NY.  The motto for TMR is promoting the obscure and original……well STR definitely fits that category, and isn’t for everyone.  There’s all sorts of cool rhythms, odd effects, technicality, unusual vocals, experimentation and killer grooves all around……

I have to say theres all sorts of things for an oddball of a band.  This isn’t just another filler metal band, its awfully original and sets them apart from many bands.  All sorts of crushing breakdowns and guttural vocals are scattered throughout their songs.  They’re a very chaotic band, which is very good in this case.  There’s all sorts of dissonance that only add to the chaos of Start The Reactor.

There’s moments where they sound like the Dillinger Escape Plan’s cousin, and then the next moment a groovy Meshuggah inspired riff.  They have two sets of recorded demos to listen on their bandcamp website.  Time will tell what this crazy yet controlled band has in store for everyone.  STR is a very punishing and brutal band, to say the least.

Start The Reactor has a show at the end of March on the 24th if you live in the Albany, New York region.

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