While there has been no shortage of amazing death metal popping up in America over the past three to five years, Pennsylvania’s Rivers of Nihil have quickly become one of Heavy Blog’s personal favorites. With the recent release of their incredible sophomore album, Monarchy, this young band has already left most of their peers in the dust with some of the most carefully-organized, brutally heavy and deceptively-dense material in this style as of late. We here at the blog gave the album a perfect score when it was released in August, and now we wanted to reach out to the band and get a closer look at what exactly causes the band to create such compelling material. For this entry of The Anatomy Of, we were able to snag answers from two members of the band. Head on over the jump to find out exactly what bassist Adam Biggs and guitarist Brody Uttley have to say about the albums and sounds that helped influence their take on progressive death metal.
I know what you’re thinking; this dude is on some corny nostalgia trip, and maybe you’re right to some degree, but I also know that I’ve been singing the praises of this album and the two Manson records that follow (Mechanical Animals and Holywood) to anyone unfortunate enough to listen. Basically what I’ll tell any of those poor souls is that if you can see past the stigma, you’ll find a record that is raw, angry, and dark as you might expect but also full of extremely well written songs with some of my favorite lyrics of all time. It’s that last bit that really comes to play in Rivers. As a lyricist, I’ve always looked at Manson as something of a high water mark when it comes to writing lyrics that are simultaneously catchy, memorable and insightful. In fact, when people ask me about Rivers’ “seasons” cross album concept they’re usually pretty quick to assume it’s inspired by Mastodon’s elemental theme, when in fact I was far more inspired by Marilyn Manson’s “Triptych”, which is this album and the two the follow it forming a narrative in reverse chronological order, pretty ingenious stuff for cheap nostalgia.
This one took me a while to warm up to. Even as far as death metal goes, this record isn’t very inviting at first listen. The vocals are bone dry and awkwardly arranged, the guitar riffs are thick, twisting and claustrophobic, and the drums are deceptively simplistic. But if I can say one thing it’s that this record is well worth the patience. I’m not sure what happened but one day I listened to this record out of nowhere and suddenly all of those above things I thought were negative about Organic were suddenly it’s greatest strengths. It all combines into an experience unique, not only within Decapitated’s discography, but in the genre as a whole. It’s a disgusting, invigorating and wholly atmospheric listen. I’ve said on many occasions that this record is the closest thing to high art that the genre of pure death metal could ever hope to achieve, and I stick by that.=
Gateways to Annihilation is somewhat overlooked in the grand scheme of things when it comes to Morbid Angel albums, and I think that’s only due to that fact that it’s not Domination or Covenant. This is the first death metal record I ever fell in love with, and it’s still my number one go-to record to remind me why I do love the genre so much. “Summoning Redemption,” in all its swamp-frog soaked sludgey riffing, sets a super angry tone that really should be the gold standard for anyone out there making death metal, and it follows with serious jams like “Ageless Still I Am” and “At One with Nothing.” There are plenty of other records (hell, entire bands) that follow pretty closely in the footsteps of Gateways, but none of those really hold a candle in my eyes.
I think “Day 69” was the first track that I listened to. That first riff has that section where it sounds like Vogg’s guitar is turning into a brontosaurus and it just sent chills down my spine. This record a tear jerking work of art and it accomplishes this without the use of clean singing, clean guitars, or pretty lead passages. No death metal band in history has come close to capturing the raw emotion and artistic genius that Decapitated did on this album. This is my favorite death metal record ever and one that I will draw influence from until the day I die. This record is probably one of the main reasons that I even wanted to start playing death metal in the first place.
This might be the most terrifying sounding album ever written. The riffs on this album make me feel like I am locked in solitary confinement at a mental hospital. The atmospheric guitars that are going on throughout this entire record add an ever more terrifying vibe to the already dreadful vibe that this album has. While Rivers of Nihil really doesn’t sound anything like Meshuggah, I still strive to convey the same feelings of dread, confusion, and hopelessness that Catch ThirtyThree gave me the first time I heard it. It’s all about the energy.
I tried really hard not to be the ironic metal guy here, but I couldn’t leave this album out. EITS taught me that heavy doesn’t always come from distorted guitars and screaming vocals; sometimes it comes from a slow and soft build up leading up to a massive and beautiful “breakdown.” This band/album made me want to start incorporating more atmospheric parts into our music. Also they taught me how to use major/happy sounding chord progressions in a way that actually ends up sounding very sad. This band also made me want to start using an e-bow in our music to create hidden melodies underneath already existing sections of music. If I hadn’t discovered this album Rivers of Nihil would probably sound VERY different than we do today.