Rivers Of Nihil get us going this morning with the tremendously deft and moody Where Owls Know My Name. Thanks to this album, the band can lay an easy claim to Most Improved Of 2018. Here, they largely turned their backs on their by-now established formula, and went instead for something new. The move is praiseworthy, and by and large a winning move. This album's still got loads of delicious guitar chugging to appeal to our baser natures, plus plenty of nods to our modern prog leanings. (Do I detect notes of Pink Floyd?) The album's main weakness — and I'm overstating them by calling them such — is its songwriting's chronic vacillation between shocking uniqueness and mere adequacy. Not so the Intronaut; The Direction Of Last Things finally, blessedly, gets things just right. Their subtle proggy explorations don't overstay their welcome, and always seem to pair up with more overt shredding as a reward for the listener. The balance, the mood, the virtuousity... all peerless. Intronaut eke out a victory today, and proceed to the Semis on Friday!
With this loss, Rivers Of Nihil tie with BTBAM for the best album of 2018. We've never had a tie in all of Arsies history... and I'll be damned if I'm gonna start now. Plus, here's a nice opportunity to determine the outcome of a strictly-2018 contest. So, if you're curious, here's how that contest went.