Reading, Pennsylvania’s Rivers Of Nihil have never fit neatly into a box, but with 2018’s Where Owls Know My Name, they transcended all labels applied to them. Returning in 2021 with The Work, they have forged further into new territory, delivering an album that is as cerebral as it is visceral, and that covers a staggering sonic range, definitively placing them in a category of their own.
With the first track penned in the fall of 2018, while the band were touring Owls, the writing process for the album was long, lasting well into 2020. Even before the music industry shutdown that happened concurrently with the Covid pandemic, the band intended to take most of 2020 off to focus on writing, meaning that their schedule was not disrupted. However, even with the whole album demoed out musically, they were not initially sure what they were working with. “We didn’t really know if it was all going to connect together in any kind of logical or interesting way.
It wasn’t until we got the vocals done that it was clear what we had on our hands: something that actually somehow all worked together,” says guitarist Brody Uttley, who describes the album as a “Sound World,” a term coined by a friend. “It’s an album that almost sounds like a place rather than a thing. It puts you in this world where you’re not exactly sure what is going on at certain points, but eventually, it all comes together.
It’s harsh and cold, but also warm and inviting,” he adds.