Rivers of Nihil – “Where Owls Know My Name”

480708After hearing their last album “Monarchy” in 2015, I knew Rivers of Nihil had the potential to be incredible. I loved that album but I could easily hear them really getting more progressive with their music. Their new album “Where Owls Know My Name” proves my theory to be true. The album has the death metal that put them on the map but they take it to a completely new level on this album.

The riffs are complex yet melodic, the vocals are mostly harsh but there are clean vocals and the band is tighter than ever. But the SONGS, that’s the big difference here. Plus any band that employs a sax solo on multiple tracks, and is still this heavy…I can’t even come up with a word. “Where Owls Know My Name” is where Rivers of Nihil position themselves as the American Opeth. Yes I said it.

I was blown away by the first song released from the album, “The Silent Life.” That song has a sax solo in it and you don’t see that left turn coming. It’s jaw dropping. The whole track is actually. But wait! There’s so much more. From the awesome intro track which is moody and atmospheric to the completely EPIC “Subtle Change (Including the Forest of Transition and Dissatisfaction Dance)” to the awesome title track, there are no weak links on this album.

“Subtle Change” is pure prog metal and it’s followed by the third part of their “Terrestria” instrumental series. “Terrestria III: Wither” like the whole album is based on the season of Fall or Autumn. “Monarchy” was Summer and “The Conscious Seed of Light” was Spring. So yes this is part of a larger concept here. Prog enough? These instrumentals have always been that moment where I knew they could really embrace being progressive. Now on this album, “Wither” fits in even better with the music around it. There’s jazz influences, folk influences, classical influences…it all FITS together!

The bottom line here is that Rivers of Nihil have made a quantum leap. This is not to take anything away from their first two great albums. It’s just that “Where Owls Know My Name” is one of those career defining albums for a band. Most bands never get anywhere close to this. All bands need to take note of how Rivers of Nihil have progressed because this is how it’s done. This is what progressive metal should be: forward thinking, perfectly executed and still very personal sounding. “Where Owls Know My Name” is going down as one of 2018’s best albums.

Rating: 10/10

1. Cancer / Moonspeak
2. The Silent Life
3. A Home
4. Old Nothing
5. Subtle Change (Including the Forest of Transition and Dissatisfaction Dance)
6. Terrestria III: Wither
7. Hollow
8. Death Is Real
9. Where Owls Know My Name
10. Capricorn / Agoratopia

Label: Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 16 March 2018
Facebook: www.facebook.com/riversofnihil
Bandcamp: riversofnihil.bandcamp.com/album/where-owls-know-my-name

Posted in death metal, extreme metal, progressive metal | Tagged | 3 Comments

Knife the Glitter – “Knife the Glitter”

Knife the Glitter album cover_previewKnife the Glitter is an interesting band and album. The band formed in 2002 and it took them 8 years to finish their self titled debut album. It is also their last album! What the hell, right? The trio had some set backs over the years and even took a break from being a band. Each member wound up doing other projects. One of which being guitar Kevin Antreassian joining The Dillinger Escape Plan.

And that is a good jumping off point for what to expect from Knife the Glitter. One major difference is that this band is an instrumental band. Another big difference between them and DEP is that they are a bit less chaotic. Knife the Glitter are (were?) really TIGHT. Each member is a great musician but never overplay. Instead they feed off of each other. This is definitely a team effort here.

Over the years the band lost all traces of metalcore which is how they started life. This album is pure technical prog with dashes of jazz and a huge helping of melody. This is not djent, nor is it a shredfest. This is about angular riffs that tear your head off and melodic moments that let you up for air before you get attacked again. My favorites are the back to back duo of “Permanent Baby Snowpants” and “Kid Colossal,” but there are no weak tracks here.

Now, I did refer to the fact that this is a “one and done” situation. The band members had a mission to finally finish this album and then they returned to their jobs and other projects. I guess that’s the downside here. The album makes you want more from Knife the Glitter (I do hate the name). But for now we should all be thankful that 3 friends stuck it out together and released a top notch album!

Rating: 8.5/10

Bandcamp: https://knifetheglitter.bandcamp.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KnifeTheGlitter

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Pete Morten of My Soliloquy Announces Charity Campaign for Born Free

My dear friend and the multi-talented Pete Morten of My Soliloquy (and formerly Threshold) has launched an important fund raiser. Pete will be releasing a charity single AND doing a 15 hour bike ride for the Born Free Foundation.


Pete writes:

Dear Friends.
As you know I’ve set up two charity events, to try and raise as much money as I can, for the Born Free Foundation.
I’ll be recording a Charity Single in August and then doing a Sponsored Bike Ride in September.
The song is a specially composed piece for the Foundation.

The campaign is LIVE. I’d be so proud to have you stand with me, and be a voice of compassion for our animal friends,
the world over. All the info you need is here:


So please check out his GoFundMe page and contribute what you can to a very good cause!

Contact links for Pete:

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Kino – “Radio Voltaire”

636522368451648807FINALLY! After 13 YEARS, Kino are back! Granted only John Mitchell (Frost*, It Bites, Arena, Lonely Robot) and Pete Trewavas (Marillion, Transatlantic) remain from their 2005 debut “Picture.” But keyboardist John Beck (It Bites) is a guest on the album. Replacing Chris Maitland on drums is the ever-busy Craig Blundell (Lonely Robot, Steven Wilson, Frost*).

While it may have actually BEEN 13 years, it doesn’t sound like it at all. “Radio Voltaire” picks up where “Picture” left off. With Mitchell as guitarist and vocalist, I’ve always heard some similarities between Kino and his subsequent bands, It Bites and Lonely Robot. I do think working with Trewavas just brings out the very best in Mitchell however since that first Kino album is still one of my “go-to” albums.

The title track kicks things off in style. It does indeed pick up where their last album left off so many years back. It’s got great melody, a strong hook and top notch musicianship. The next track “The Dead Club” was released as the first single and to be honest, it’s easily my LEAST favorite track. Lyrically, it doesn’t grab me and it’s a little repetitive but not in the catchy sort of way.

“Idlewind” is a stunning track, the big prog ballad that Mitchell is great at writing. “I Won’t Break So Easily Any More” is a favorite track of mine as well. I would have probably released this one as a single. I LOVE the lyrics, as the idea is something I need to hear currently! “Temple Tudor” is an interesting track, a bit of a change of pace for Kino. I don’t love it but I do like that it’s different and sequenced well in the album.

“Out of Time” and “Grey Shapes on Concrete Fields” are two more great songs, with the latter being that upbeat prog pop that Kino did so well on “Picture.” It sits nicely alongside “Leave a Light On” and “Room For Two.” Those two tracks being my favorites on “Picture.” The album closes VERY strongly with the excellent “The Silent Fighter Pilot,” one of the best tracks.

Unfortunately, I have not heard the bonus tracks though three of them are alternate mixes. Still, you can best believe that I will be purchasing the deluxe edition with those tracks on it. I honestly didn’t think there would be another Kino album. Granted 13 years is a long time but “Radio Voltaire” is worth the wait! I just hope it’s not another 13 years before a third album!

Rating: 9/10


  1. Radio Voltaire
  2. The Dead Club
  3. Idlewild
  4. I Don’t Know Why
  5. I Won’t Break So Easily Any More
  6. Temple Tudor
  7. Out of Time
  8. Warmth of the Sun
  9. Grey Shapes on Concrete Fields
  10. Keep The Faith
  11. The Silent Fighter Pilot

Bonus Tracks
Temple Tudor (Piano Mix)
The Dead Club (Berlin Headquarter Mix)
Keep The Faith (Orchestral Mix)
The Kino Funfair

Label: InsideOut Music
Release Date: March 23, 2018


Posted in art rock, melodic rock, modern prog, progressive metal | Tagged | Leave a comment

NON – “The Time is Now”

26865766_1674736669254122_1086775241562128384_nNON is short for Nine O Nine. They are from Portugal and part of the reason I decided to review their album “The Time is Now” was I did hear SOME potential. They are good musicians, they understand how to write a hook and bassist Sérgio Duarte has a listenable voice. So the main question I had after the initial sampling of their music was how good are they once I dive into the music deeper? I was about to learn a lesson.

I have heard of the band’s guitarist Tó Pica, granted his solo material didn’t really do anything for me but this is about the band and not one person. Pica wrote the music and Duarte wrote all the lyrics, except for a Depeche Mode cover. The title track kicks off the album and the chorus is the key to this song. The verses are just okay but the chorus is quite good.

One complaint is that the drumming is inconsistent on the whole album. At times it drives the track, other times it sounds like the track is driving the drums. The riffs on the album are pretty strong but there’s almost a pattern at times. Heavy riffing verse and wide open riff on the chorus. “The Way Back Home” does sound quite similar to the title track, but more bland.

“Beauty Femme” veers into boring radio ready rock balladry. Next is the Depeche Mode cover “Never Let Me Down Again.” I’ve never been a fan of the band and once again, Cardoso does more pitter pattering on the drums rather than take control of the song. “Aquilam” isn’t terribly memorable while “King” has a very King’s X like intro riff that is hopeful. Sadly, the song is very listless.

Sadly there’s not enough left in the album that quite works for me. “Big Event” does have a good riff but the song itself isn’t good enough to support it. “Sofia” ends the album with a whimper. NON have some talent but are too generic to really keep my interest for 50 minutes. “The Time is Now” is the best track and I suppose aptly named since everything after has less urgency.

Rating: 4/10

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NON909/

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Earthless – “Black Heaven”

Earthless - Black Heaven - Artwork Earthless have been one of the best instrumental bands that you might not know of. The band have recorded albums with 20 minute psychedelic jams that flat out ROCK. They have only featured vocals once in the past and it was on their Groundhogs cover of “Cherry Red.” That was 11 years ago. So when I found out that their new album “Black Heaven” was going to have vocals on most of the tracks, I was more than surprised.

Based on that lone cover with vocals, I was aware that guitarist Isaiah Mitchell could sing. But on “Black Heaven,” the world gets to find out just how well Mitchell can sing and it adds another weapon to Earthless’ arsenal. This does not mean that the band don’t still rock out, because they do. It means the songs aren’t 20 minute guitar solos but rather balanced 8 plus minute mini-epics with Earthless showing that they could be ready to take on the world.

Doing an album like “Black Heaven” is very much a double edged sword. On one hand, long time fans might be unwilling to part with those long instrumentals. On the other hand, an album like this WILL expand Earthless’ audience. The album kicks off with “Gifted by the Wind” which has a funky, power trio vibe akin to The James Gang with some southern rock tinge. It rocks, plain and simple.

“End to End” takes a bit to kick in but when it does, it’s awesome. It has a great guitar solo at the end by Mitchell which, were it on an older album, probably could last another 10 minutes or so. I suppose there’s more than one opportunity like this on the album for Earthless to expand these songs live. And that’s one major point here. Earthless is focusing more on the songs than the jams.

“Electric Flame” is another ass kicker which sounds like a heavier Gov’t Mule. Again, those concerned that there aren’t great solos on this album need to appreciate the ones that are there. And there is another great one on here. “Black Heaven” is not without instrumentals. There are 2 of them, though one of them (“Volt Rush”) is under TWO MINUTES”! GASP!

While that track really doesn’t seem all that necessary, it makes a nice intro into the other instrumental, the title track. This song is a showcase for what Earthless normally do, albeit in just under 9 minutes. The album closes out with the slow, majestic “Sudden End.” And while it has vocals, the guitar is more prominent than those vocals.

I love when bands take chances and this is a risk for Earthless. I think there’s enough of what Earthless has always done to please current fans and there’s another level of talent that will appeal to a wider audience. Maybe some people will think signing to Nuclear Blast somehow influenced this but Earthless do whatever they want. They still aren’t fashionable but they should be mentioned in the same breath as bands like The Sword who understand how to play classic rock with a modern feel. “Black Heaven” is Earthless firing on all cylinders after adding an extra one.

Rating: 9/10

1. Gifted By The Wind
2. End To End
3. Electric Flame
4. Volt Rush
5. Black Heaven
6. Sudden End

Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 16 March 2018
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/earthlessrips

Posted in hard rock, psych rock, stoner metal | Tagged | Leave a comment

Malady – “Toinen Toista”

Adobe Photoshop PDFI spent a lot of hours listening to Scandinavian prog. But I also love Finnish prog as well (Finland isn’t part of Scandinavia for those curious). But that entire peninsula has given the world so many great bands over the years and Finland has really joined the conversation with some great prog rock (Von Hertzen Brothers for example) and prog metal (Amorphis for example) bands. Adding to this ever growing list is Malady. Malady play an old school style of prog with plenty of complexity but also a bit focus on melody.

Vintage is one word to describe their new album “Toinen Toista” which would not sound out of place in the 70s. I say this a lot with bands like Wobbler, Jordsjø, and Anima Morte but Malady aren’t paying tribute. Rather this is another band that lives and breaths that old school prog sound. They don’t fake it at all.

The album kicks off with the title track which sounds like the band tuning up for a bit before really getting into it. You think it’s a cool instrumental until the vocals show up more than half way through. The one somewhat downside to Malady (which is similar to another band I recently reviewed Jordsjø) is that the vocals aren’t QUITE on the same level as the music. I suppose a band like Wobbler has spoiled me with amazing vocals and harmonies.

Still, the music is great with an awesome guitar riff, very cool organ part and yes MELLTRON! The song segues perfectly into the short “Laulu sisaruksille” and while I tend not to like interludes, this one joins the tracks on each side of it so well. It’s first half is all mellotron and then strings finish it as it flows into “Tiedon kehtolaulu.” That song has this FM breezy funky vibe that reminds me musically of “Reminiscing” by the Little River Band. Before everyone loses it, I mean the arrangement and instrumentation are similar. It’s an great song.

The organ dominated “Etsijän elinehto” is next but it’s the bass line on this track that blows me away. Finally, the key track is the 23 minute closer “Nurja puoli” which has all the prog “bells and whistles” you would expect. It also shows that Wobbler and Big Big Train isn’t the only modern prog band that can crank out a classic epic.

Malady might not have reinvented prog rock but they have added an important album to the long list of great ones. Obviously, if you need lyrics in English, you might look elsewhere. But I think most prog fans know that music is the universal language and “Toinen Toista” should have universal appeal.

Rating: 8.5/10


1. Toinen toista
2. Laulu sisaruksille
3. Tiedon kehtolaulu
4. Etsija?n elinehto
5. Nurja puoli

Label: Svart Records
Release Date: 16 March 2018
Facebook: www.facebook.com/maladyband

Posted in progressive rock, psych rock | Tagged | 1 Comment