We find out where a band hails from and we immediately, conscious or not, already believe we know what they sound like. The Swedish death metal scene is melodic, the Finnish scene is dirty and grungy, the Norwegians are horribly produced, and Americans love their feedback way too much. However, there are bands that buck the trend of their scene. I really love those bands. Those are the bands that I seek out, the ones I truly enjoy listening to. Case in point, Rive.
Rive are from Norway so you would expect it to sound ill produced, cold atmosphere, and shrill guitars with little to no rhythm. Thank the gods that they are not like the rest of their countrymen. Rive is not a Darkthrone clone trying to sap away the limelight. Rive is a depressive black metal band, which means fuller sounds, slower melodies, and melodies! I started listening to them and honestly I was expecting them to sound like they were from Norway. I was wrong. They sound like they don’t really belong anywhere. They throw elements from all the scenes into their music and the resulting concoction is a very satisfying listen. The production is good but not so much that the music sounds symphonic or synthetic. This level of production is better suited for the depressive black metal that Rive plays because the music flows better. There is more poetry in the music itself rather than the lyrics (though the lyrics are actually quite good) and the production quality helps exhibit this. Each of the instruments has a part in the play, the story that Rive sets out in Sorg. They utilize their instruments, they don’t just find evil sounding riffs and play them to death for seven to eight minutes at a time will saying how much they love Satan, refreshing.
Rive knows how to play more than one style of music as well, several times throughout the album, the guitars take off in an acoustic showcase, displaying talent that is rare for any sort of black metal, Norwegian or otherwise. They are slower, softer and more melancholic than the rest of the music, serving as a great counterpoint.
The vocals are not Norwegian sounding either, they are fuller and throatier. Upon a few listens the emotions of the vocalists are pretty easy to comprehend. They aren’t unintelligible but understanding each word is not really important, it never has been in black metal to truly understand all the lyrics (which is why I think so many bands choose not to publish them), but the listener understands what the lyrics are meant to evoke, the feelings and emotions that the band is trying to stir. Many bands try to avoid any sort of emotional attachment to the music and deny any sort of emotional meaning to their music but I am happy that Rive seems to embrace emotions beyond anger, a fuller range of emotions means a richer, more well-rounded band. A band that I like listening to more. After listening to Rive and enjoying it, I would be hard pressed to choose between Sorg and say Gorgoroth’s Pentagram. They have the same sort of feel but I think Sorg is better produced and more meaningful in the end. That’s not an easily acquired accomplishment.
It’s not post black metal, it’s not avant garde black metal. It’s black metal that takes cues from all the scenes and creates something unique and worth a listen.
As a side not it’s difficult to search for the band and the album without running into search engines believing you are searching for River Song, but that’s just an amusing anecdote.
And something else new to black metal: an instrumental version of the album
Listen and support!