SONG OF THE DAY: Rivers of Nihil – Hellbirds


I haven’t got the faintest idea about what kind of city Reading is, but judging by the liner notes attached to the new single, “Hellbirds,” released on October 19th, 2023, via Metal Blade Records by the technical death-metal juggernaut, RIVERS OF NIHIL, hailing from this Pennsylvanian place, I guess it is quite like the place where I spent my delicate adolescent years. Bassist Adam Biggs, who took over the vocal duties as well when founding member and lead vocalist Jake Dieffenbach and the band went their separate ways a while back, states in the press release, “It’s an anthem for people who hail from dead-end towns like us.”

It turns out the song was actually written during the sessions for the band’s previous studio album, “The Work” (2021), but it proved perhaps a tad too raw for the selection at the time, so it sees the light of day now as a one-off single release. It is easily one of the heaviest songs they have ever written, and it does capture that distinct adolescent feeling that I used to have living in a nowhere town during the worst recession that my country had ever witnessed; living in the wake of a cataclysmic shit-storm that you cannot control seems to be the underlying theme in the song and, accordingly, the riffs bite rather hard and the delivery is one of genuine pent-up rage.

While the song is not as progressive as I would have expected, considering their last couple of full-length efforts, or even the single, “Sub-Orbital Blues,” released earlier this year, a rager of this sort is quite an apt demonstration of a new level of energy in the band. The song is also a good opportunity to showcase the band’s new lineup in full swing. In addition to the departure of their original lead vocalist, RIVERS OF NIHIL has also hooked up with new guitarist Andy Thomas (ex-BLACK CROWN INITIATE). Apparently, he drops some nice clean vocals in this song, too, so the band’s classic hallmarks are rather comprehensively present – there is something absolutely crushing, yet hauntingly beautiful, just as you would expect. Obviously, this new single stirs up hopes that we will be seeing the release of a studio album full of all-new material sometime in the not-so-very-distant future. It will be a blast if this banger is anything to go by.

Written by Jani Lehtinen