Rivers of Nihil’s debut album ‘The Conscious Seed of Light’ was actually released on Metal Blade back in October 2013. That means I’m pretty late with reviewing this album, but this album has impressed me so much that I feel I need to share it with you. If The Faceless and Fit for an Autopsy had a baby, this band would be it. Rivers of Nihil take a technical approach to death metal that is thoroughly brutal while also trying their hand at a bit of melody and ambiance, largely created by the two guitarists, as well as a nice sprinkling of black metal. I’ll be brief so you can just go and listen to the album straight away.
The twin guitars are at times pummeling, in the opening track ‘Rain Eater’ acting as an auditory jackhammer, drilling away at your eardrums with absolute ferocity, while at others such as on ‘Mechanical Trees’ where they play with the contrast between a down-tuned background chugging and ambient post-rock moments. The riffs come thick and fast, with the only problem being that there are so many riffs that I’m not sure which one I like the most! The drums compliment the guitars as an equally varied instrument, moving with ease between mid-tempo rhythms, to blastbeats, and other complicated, fast-paced arrangements. The vocals have a slightly deathcore edge to them but remain varied, with deep gutturals and powerful mids, while on some parts of ‘Place of Serpents’ they’re more hardcore. The vocals may be the only point on which Rivers of Nihil may divide opinion, as they’re not your usual death metal gutturals.
The songs themselves are powerful and well-written while a few stand out to me in particular. Opener ‘Rain Eater’ bludgeons your head in with a drill (Just listen to those riffs!) and makes you love it. Half-way through ‘Soil & Seed’ the band switches into pure black metal and it’s a glorious moment of ‘Wow, they really just did that!’ ‘Mechanical Trees’ stands out to me for its combination of a really strong song structure complimented by machine-gun death metal riffs with an ambient, post-rock side to it as well. Closing track ‘Airless’ is both extremely technical but also slow, heavy, and dark, with weird, dissonant riffs floating in and out, and a powerful handful of riffs that keep the song forging onwards before the really quite beautiful instrumental passage, then back to the dissonant riffs to play the band out.
Oh, and the artwork is 10/10. Check it out.
This album has quickly gained a place on my regular death metal rotation. It’s additionally impressive because it’s the band’s first album: no wonder they’ve already been snatched up by a major label. While the vocals may divide some listeners, this is an extremely strong death metal album with enough variety and technicality to feel fresh.