Rivers of Nihil’s latest record, Where Owls Know My Name, was considered one of the best records of 2018 amongst many online music and metal websites. Personally, I loved it as well, as it shows how far the band has come in recent years, excelling their craft with every album they have released. I caught Rivers of Nihil earlier in 2018 alongside Thy Art Is Murder, Enterprise Earth, and Dying Fetus. Their set was shorter than what I wanted, but they were excellent, nonetheless. I was hoping to see them soon, especially since they hadn’t led any sort of headlining tour to support their album.
Later in 2018 and in early 2019, details of a headlining tour concerning Rivers of Nihil surfaced, showing that they would be bringing along Entheos, Conjurer, and Wolf King as supports. They also announced that they would be performing their latest album in full, with a live saxophonist. This news hit me like a truck, in a good way, and I knew that I wasn’t going to be missing this show whatsoever. I also had experience seeing Entheos and Wolf King perform in 2018 so I knew the quality of the tour package was already going to be top notch.
The night of the show arrived, and the first local act to open for the tour was Mechanize, from the Kansas side of Kansas City, playing mainly in the vein of deathcore. At the point of their set starting, the venue was already filling up fast. Mechanize started the show off with a bang, immediately demonstrated their best performance to date (I had seen them twice beforehand). Their synergy was at their peak. However, it seemed like the crowd wasn’t too into it. It was a great opportunity for them to be heard and I feel they played their best that night. Hoping that they get to open up for more well-known bands in the future.
Second up was AHTME, a death metal band that also hailed from the Kansas City area and are signed to Unique Leader Records. They played with precision and had more luck getting the crowd energized for the upcoming acts. I didn’t have the chance to listen to these guys beforehand, but after witnessing their live act I’ve been hooked ever since. They easily fell more in line with the sound of the tour package than the previous act, but both played with aplomb, in my opinion.
Wolf King took the stage next, one of my favorite acts that I got to experience last year with Ghost Bath and Abigail Williams. Their live show is almost unmatched in terms of energy and seeing them again was definitely one of the main reasons to attend this event. Tim Wilson would meet up with the crowd at the front of the stage every chance he could, screaming every lyric at the top of his lungs. This power was then magnified when Jake Broughton joined his volcanic vocals into the mix, almost causing the entire venue to collapse. Wolf King was the accelerant to tonight’s equation, getting the crowd straight into the moshing and circle pitting. This was to be expected of course.
Conjurer took to the spotlight and were perhaps the most interesting of the package. They managed to maintain a strong presence during their set with a heavy foreboding atmosphere instead of the usual energetic, fast-paced mayhem that the other bands utilized to get the crowd going. Their post-metal sound sent out heavy waves throughout the crowd, almost like a heavy swaying of objects in a heavy breeze. There wasn’t ever a dull moment every time a band took to the stage.
Entheos made their way to the front, bringing about a slew of technical and progressive metal prowess, making them the most similar to the headliners, Rivers of Nihil. I had witnessed them perform last year during Summer Slaughter and was immediately impressed. I was happy to see them in a more intimate setting and with a slightly prolonged time to play. Chaney Crabb is an amazing frontwoman, leading the crowd in whichever way she wanted, all the while bouncing all over the place in her own merriment. Every song played was explosive at the right moments. They even brought their own additional lighting which really pushed the atmosphere and aesthetic of their sound to the max.
Rivers of Nihil became the beginning to the end of the night, playing their latest beloved album from front to back. Right from the get-go, the crowd sang along to every lyric and you could even see some folks playing out the instrumentals during solos and choruses. Rivers of Nihil became one with every person in the crowd, exceeding expectations immediately. Every time the saxophonist made his way to play his sections, the crowd would roar out in approval. Seeing all this packed into the small venue of The Riot Room was a sight in itself.
The Where Owls Know My Name Tour is and was a complete success in my eyes. Every band played up to the aforementioned expectations and obviously exceeded them as well. While I had my own favorites from the start, there were some surprises that made the experience even better (such as Conjurer and Ahtme), and very little, if any, disappointment to be had from the night. Leading up to the event, some shows had sold out. Even while typing this, more shows have sold out and will most likely continue to do so. I’m glad to see more tours being formed around playing full albums in their entirety, showing that playing only “the popular songs” isn’t the only option for high quality and well-established artists nowadays. Don’t miss out on this tour, it is one of the most essential and important events to capture this spring and is a great example of how album cycle touring should be executed.
All photos by Jeffrey Allee
RIVERS OF NIHIL
AHTME, CONJUROR, ENTHEOS, WOLF KING, MECHANIZE