2 + 2 Reviews: Summer Scorcher Edition

August is here!!! With summer’s swan song, comes a new batch of scorchers for your listening pleasure. This week, we’re taking a look at top-tier offerings from Rivers of Nihil, Leprous, Sam Birchall, and Gunship & Tyler Bates featuring Dave Lombardo.

Read on to see what we thought!

Rivers of Nihil – Clean

BH: I first got introduced to this group when I was hearing how good their last album “Where Owls Know My Name” was.  I picked up the album after hearing a few tracks and was blown away by the mix of tech death, prog and sax (!).  One of their strengths is they don’t let the tech or prog get in the way of the songwriting.

Their new single, Clean, is probably the best example of this.

I haven’t been able to stop listening to this song since it dropped this week.  I love the slower chug buildup that wraps its tentacles around you and then explodes into a massive maelstrom of riffs.

Jared Klein’s drumming is once again on top-form here.  I also want to mention that the production on the drums is really great on this single.  

I actually prefer the production on this over the last album.  Jake Dieffenbach’s vocals still crush and if anything his vocals sound better than ever.  I also have to mention Brody Uttley’s lead riff rules and the solo section is tasteful and fits perfectly in the song.  

I have to say that at least based on this single, Rivers of Nihil’s new album may be the one that really takes the band to next level heights.  I think they may soon be in a similar category as Gojira is and deservedly so.     

George, is this your first introduction to Rivers of Nihil?  If so, hell of a time to get into them.  What influences do you hear in their sound?  What’s your favorite part of the song?   

GF: This is indeed my first introduction to them! As far as first introductions go, this one was very particular too. I was a bit hesitant for the opening segments, but I came to find myself more and more on board with what I was hearing, as the song progressed.

At first blush, Dieffenbach’s were just a tad too much for me, but now, I kinda love them. The backup he gets from the rest of the band, when they’re actually singing, makes for a really nice compliment too.

You mention the tech and proggy aspects of the band’s sound, and I think that’s what made me really get on board with this. The second half of the song is definitely my favorite part of the tune, as it sounds like the soundtrack for some sort of summoning ritual inside an ice cave lit with very particular blues and greens.

Also, the guitar solo is indeed a cooker– one that features a really slick build, and some really considered, melodic playing.

I’m glad you put me on to the band’s music. I’ll definitely be checking out the album when it drops

Pre-order their new album “The Work” here: https://www.indiemerchstore.com/collections/rivers-of-nihil

Catch Rivers of Nihil on tour with The Black Dahlia Murder this fall!

Leprous – The Silent Revelation

BH: Now THIS is Leprous.  I’ll admit the previous single, Running Low, left me unsure on what we would be getting on this new album. It’s a solid song but The Silent Revelation is more in line with what I love about this band.

If you’re not familiar with Leprous yet, now’s a great time to dig in.  They started out as the backing band for Ihsahn (who is also amazing) and branched out with their own albums.  

“Aphelion” is their seventh album to date.  If this track is any indication, this album might hit the highs of “Malina”, which is my favorite album from the band.  The textures at play here are very reminiscent of that album, mixed with a little of what made their previous album “Pitfalls” tick.  

Einar’s vocals of course soar as usual here.  I also really appreciate the quieter portions of the song, particularly when the strings come in at around the halfway point. 

This is a STUNNING track by everyone in the band though. It’s dynamic, catchy and just beautifully written.  Can’t wait to hear the full album.

Pre-order their new album “Aphelion” here:


Sam Birchall- Jitterbug Perfume

GF: I’m not quite sure how to describe Sam Birchall’s music, but I fell in love with his guitar playing after hearing him play just a handful of notes.

I find this song to be particularly wonderful, as his playing manages to be both wildly expressive and full of joy, whilst maintaining a high degree of technical proficiency.

This is a very, very, difficult balance to maintain. Here, his lines zig and zag with reckless abandon, but never in a way that’s outwardly show-y, or superfluous. To my ears, he’s managing to effortlessly channel the stylistic tendencies of Pete Cosey, Allan Holdsworth, and maybe, Omar Rodriguez Lopez, creating something that is uniquely his own.

I feel like this is a perfect song for a summer afternoon, while you sip lemonade, or a cold beer. It’s something to play while you sit in the shade and smile, thankful for the fact that it’s 72 and breezy outside.

I can’t recommend this highly enough, and I’m super thankful to have come across his music.

Gunship & Tyler Bates- Berserker (featuring Dave Lombardo)

GF: I’m not gonna lie, I came here for Dave Lombardo.

My favorite drummer from the big 4 of thrash, Mr. Lombardo’s presence on a song will get me to listen, no matter what, as his playing is never short of magic.

While he’s not the star of the show here, he still manages to bring some muscle to the song, in addition to a few of his signature drum fills.

As someone who was not familiar with Gunship’s music, I was very pleasantly surprised to encounter their particular brand of NIN meets Perturbator.

If this track doesn’t go full-on synth-pop here in a couple of spots, it gets REALLY, REALLY, close, and I’m kind of all for it.

While pure metal is cool, I’m more and more fascinated as of late by when the genre butts up against other things, or, wholly incorporates disparate genres or stylistic things into the mix. 

The song isn’t afraid to wear a lot of hats, and even sound… happy?

Going into it, I was expecting something wildly different than what I got, and I’m very thankful for that. There have been a number of strong songs that have come from the Death Metal soundtrack, but this or Chelsea Wolfe’s offering might be the top dogs.

Brandon, I know you’re more familiar with Gunship’s work, so how did this strike you in comparison to their other material? Are you familiar with any of Lombardo’s work outside of Slayer, like Fantomas? How does this rank for you amongst the offerings from the Death Metal soundtrack?

BH: Well this is a good bit different than what we usually get with Gunship in terms of the metal riffage and acoustic kit we have on this track.  

That said, similarly to other synthwave groups like Perturbator and Carpenter Brut, there is a tendency to toe the line of metal and this song certainly crosses over.

Though, it still has that big, hooky chorus that Gunship is known for.

And yeah Dave Lombardo is a great addition.  Would love to hear him collaborate more with Gunship actually.  To answer your question George, I’ve actually never ventured outside of Lombardo’s Slayer albums but am curious to check out other projects he’s been a part of.  I agree with you that Lombardo is one of if not the best drummer from the Big 4 (though Nick Menza is up there too). 

I liked several cuts off the Death Metal soundtrack and I’d say this one fits comfortably at the top.  I’m a fan of the Mastodon, Chelsea Wolfe, HEALTH and Greg Puciato tracks particularly but I could see myself coming back to this track more often in the years to come.

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