Shallow Rivers – Nihil Euphoria

Not even time to file away with the utmost satisfaction the magnificent test of Revelations Of Rain and here from the cold Russian moors comes the long-distance debut of Shallow Rivers, a work capable of exalting admirers of the most melodic death doom. In fact, respecting chronology, Nihil Euphoria would have been released a few weeks earlier than Deceptive Virtue, but it is a rather curious (and in my opinion also a bit questionable) fact the almost simultaneous release of two records of the same genre, for the same record company (Solitude Productions, although this one actually bears the BadMoodMan sub label label label mark) and with the same beating heart, represented by the figure of guitarist Yuri Rhyzov. Intertwining the fates of Shallow Rivers even more closely with those of Revelations Of Rain is the presence of vocalist Vladimir Andreev, who was the latter’s protagonist behind the microphone on the first three albums. If truth be told, Nihil Euphoria turns out to be somewhat complementary to Deceptive Virtue, for while there are many common traits between the two records, one cannot help but notice that the former possesses a much more pronounced extreme component, with passages sometimes marked by a wall of riffs overpowered by Vladimir’s effective growl. It is precisely this magical union between the brutality of death and the melancholy of doom that is the not-so-hidden secret to the success of an album in this genre, and Shallow Rivers manages to unite these two souls in an admirable way as we have not heard in a long time. The probably coincidental assonance between Shallow and Swallow, however, reminds us, should we need it, of what the coordinates of the Moscow band’s sound are, but it must be said that the melodic cues, the prerogative of the Finnish masters, are placed in a context approaching the heavier moments of Novembers Doom, for a final result that finds its counterpart, in terms of value and sum of components, in the never enough praised Melpomene by Latvia’s Frailty. Having said the possible influences, the game of cross-references useful mainly to describe the content of the record but which, at times, can even be misleading, the element capable of making the difference, making Nihil Euphoria the ideal soundtrack of these rainy autumn days is Yuri Rhizov’s guitar; here we are not talking, of course, about a novel Malmsteen, of which, moreover, in a genre like doom one does not even feel the need, but about a musician capable of producing in a continuous stream melodic lines capable of translating into music the sadness and melancholy evoked by the splendid cover. The title track introduces us without preamble, with all its sorrowful beauty, to the discovery of an album that possesses no weak points, except for the fact, inevitably, of remembering in this or that passage, this or that band, but those who love doom of all this have largely already made their peace with it. The slow and laborious progress through the fog of the lonely boatman depicted on the cover finds its sublimation in the masterpiece Down The River To Vortex, an authentic manifesto of what is meant by death doom, and in the lyricism of the concluding Before The Light Fades, where a monumental Yuri makes not only the strings of his guitar vibrate but also our mortal souls. It’s just too bad, as mentioned earlier, that the two magnificent works featuring him as undisputed protagonist were not released within a few months of each other, preventing me from the current compulsive immersion in sounds of which, however, I will never be satiated enough.

2013 – BadMoodMan Music