Rivers of Nihil, Mama Roux’s Birmingham, 29 September 2019
Mama Roux’s is a small music venue built into one of the arches of a disused railway viaduct in the Digbeth area of Birmingham. The décor is themed on the American South, with three levels which provide good views of the stage, although hanging “ferns” do slightly block the view from the upper two levels.
We managed to secure a booth on the middle level, which provided us with welcome seating and a table.
The line-up tonight featured four bands and first on were Orbit Culture. This Swedish Death Metal band have been around since 2013 and have released two albums and two EPs. The band’s line-up has had a couple of changes over the years. They delivered an enjoyable set and it will be interesting to see how they develop.
Set list: Redfog, Nensha, Sun of all, Svartport, Saw.
Next up were MØL from Denmark. They describe themselves as “Shoegaze Metal”, whatever that is. It makes them sound very boring, but they weren’t. The show was very energetic, and at one point, vocalist Kim Song Sternkopf pushed through the audience, and sang from halfway up the stairs leading to the upper levels.
Set list: Penumbra, Atacama, Ligament, Bruma, Jord.
When Black Crown Initiate were forced to cancel their appearance at UK Tech-Fest earlier this year, it was most disappointing. The reason, as it turned out was because of this very tour, so we got to see them anyway. We really enjoyed their set but the sound wasn’t great, especially Andy Thomas’s clean vocals which are an integral part of the songs. You could hardly hear him and the guy on the mixing desk didn’t seem to notice.
However, the guys from Pennsylvania gave it their all, and Ethan McKenna treated us to some stunning lead solos, for which there was spontaneous applause mid song.
Set list: A Great Mistake, Years in Frigid Light, Stench of the Iron Age, Ghosts She Sends, Matriarch.
So, to the main act of the evening, Rivers of Nihil. This was the tour showcasing their masterpiece of an album, “Where Owls Know My Name”. The set consisted of the entire album bookended with songs from previous albums. As with Black Crown Initiate, the sound quality left a bit to be desired. It wasn’t terrible and knowing the album so well helped a lot. Two guys next to us, who had travelled down from Scotland were certainly enjoying it immensely.
RON launch into the first number, ‘Rain Eater’ from their first album “The Conscious Seed of Light”, which gets the crowd nicely warmed up, and then, the moment everyone had been waiting for. “Where Owls Know My Name” from start to finish, with all the bells and whistles, well saxophone anyway. Several people in the audience are sporting multi-coloured inflatable novelty versions of the instrument. The real deal is being played on stage by Zach Strouse who can also be seen in some of the band’s videos. The sax features heavily in tracks such as ‘Terrestria III: Wither’ and the title track Where Owls Know my Name’, which also sees Andy Thomas from Black Crown Initiate taking on some of the vocals and this time he can be heard.
The encore is ‘Sand Baptism’ from the band’s second album “Monarchy” and a popular choice for the last song of the night.
So, a well-attended gig, in a nice little venue, the sound could have been better and the lighting a bit brighter but, all in all, a very enjoyable evening.
Set list: Rain Eater, Cancer / Moonspeak, The Silent Life, A Home, Old Nothing, Subtle Change (Including the Forest of Transition and Dissatisfaction Dance), Terrestria III: Wither, Hollow, Death Is Real, Where Owls Know My Name, Capricorn / Agoratopia, Sand Baptism.