Rivers Of Nihil are back with Monarchy, a Metal Blade release that is a big
victory for the death metal genre, the well regarded label and the East Coast
band. It is a captivating listen from start to finish, a record that rules
like a dark monarch’s shadowy yet obeyed decrees. This fucker has some
technical moments, some pure hostility and even more potent vacations into the
Oh, and their “Sand Baptism” music video was half shot by kids!!
While the ‘Earth in peril/Sun worship’ plot subtheme of the lyrics reminds me
a bit of Shai Hulud’s excellent Reach Beyond The Sun, 2015 is a time when
people are more commonly embracing Earth conscious lyrics and subtexts. Its
cool that Metal Blade has released a lot of the best recent records in metal
that has more important environmental lessons under the surface of great riffs
and screams, from Cattle Decapitation’s The Anthropocene Extinction to the
aforementioned Hulud release.
Read a rock solid convo on the process of Monarchy BELOW.
I heard CSoL and was into that record but the new one hit me a bit harder.
B: I’m glad you like it.
“Perpetual Growth Machine”, y’know, the first song I heard…blown away. Even
as a song title it is a good representation of things, as this record shows
B: I’m glad people have been receiving it so well. It’s a relief to know people
are diggin’ it.
“Terrestria II Thrive” comes to mind (maybe my favorite track). There’s more atmosphere but still really
heavy moments. The older stuff is cool but this one, the production sounds
better than a lot of other death metal bands. Did you spend a long time on
B: As far as the production on this album, I recorded guitar and bass at my
home studio. We went to Atrium Audio in Lancaster, PA which is about forty
minutes from where I am. We’ve known those guys close to ten years. They do a
lot of ROCK bands, so they have a broad sense of sounds as producers. I feel
like the fact they have done a lot of types of bands made the record sound
bigger than the last one did. They have a large pallette.
Sure, at the same time it feels organic, a quality you’ve often had. A real
band clearly executing it.
B: Yeah. We really wanted to make sure that happened. We went to Erik Rutan,
the kind of organic death metal.
B: There is no magic on that first record that we did. Very cut and dry death
metal record. We were nervous going to a new producer but we wanted to sound a
little bit more modern. I think they did a really good job with that.
How does it feel having such support from the great Metal Blade?
B: When we frst told them we were going to record bass and guitar on our own
and then Atrium Audio instead of Rutan, at first I think they were a little
worried about it. They know Erik. He’s recorded Cannibal Corpse and Goatwhore
and stuff. Hate Eternal, obviously.
Agnostic Front, recently.
B: They know him and trust him. But I think after they heard the record they
were even more excited we pulled through and made a really bad ass sounding
record, even if it was done our own way.
The leads really shine on this and cut through. They jump from the speakers.
B: Growing up I was an instrumental guitar nerd. Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, Joe
Satriani, John Petrucci. I’ve always been a fan of big sounding guitar solos.
I really wanted to focus on that on this record. I love playing solos
obviously, but I also like when they fit well , sound good in the mix and
aren’t just there for the sake of being there.
Yeah! Have you heard the new Marty Friedman record Inferno? It’s really good.
B: I haven’t heard it yet but I’ve heard from a couple people I should check
it out. I’m a huge Marty fan from when he was in Megadeth.
Death metal is often dealing with death. Is writing about it a way of
accepting it, through these topics? Also, players in technical death metal
often try hard to show their skill and leave a mark as players, to do their
best performance. That could also be said as a way to face death with your
best effort. You sort of defy mortality, as it is a genre that has a little
more talent needed to play. Do you ever feel like you are really trying to
make a lasting statement of who you are?
B: Through our music, you mean? Uh, yeah. We’re trying to take a sound people
are familiar with as death metal and put our own spin on it. Also writing
songs that are memorable, not just technical and heavy for the sake of being
technical and heavy, so. We are trying to make our mark the best way we can
and it seems to be working.
Lately there’s a lot of dumb haters in the metal scene. I know metal’s dark but there
have been so many negative comments lately. Example, Corey Taylor from
Slipknot said pop music has become so bad and fake and quantized and all these
comments on the Facebook post, I think it was Blabbermouth…were like
,”Slipknot is the POP of metal.” Well, I know they’re not Suffocation but
Slipknot, it’s obviously SO much heavier than our average shitty pop
(laughing). We all know the type of pop Taylor was talking about.
B: Of course. I dunno. I think that in the realm of death metal and new
technology, all the technology out there today to make stuff sound more
refined…both in pop music and death metal sometimes it’s overused. People
also need to be willing to accept that time is a thing. People and technology
adapt to the time and things get better with age. When Pro Tools first came
out is was cheating. Nowadays, all those guys talking shit once are using Pro
Tools now. People get pissed off at new things. I do, in a way, agree with
Corey Taylor about the Pop music thing. It is ridiculous. I can’t even turn on
pop radio stations anymore and listen to what the Top 40 shit is. It’s tough
to listen to sometimes.
People say pop has always been bad but you go back and listen to the 80’s
songs and INXS can fuckin’ play! (laughing)
B: Yeah, man. I love a lot of pop. I love Coldplay, Muse, Iron & Wine. I love
fleet foxes. Indie-pop. Not electronic Taylor Swifty kinda stuff. There is a
lot of good pop out there but no stuff sounds like a computer singing into a
computer singing into a computer. It’s rough, but people have to as far as
technology and all that shit in heavy music, give it ten years. It’s just how
It makes older records special. You hear Altars of Madness and you know the
time period it is from. And I might not fully like the mix on the new
Allegaeon, but I still thought it was a great new record, for example.
B: This industry is always moving. It’s not a thing that stands still. It
Do you feel really lucky you’ve found people willing to go through this
process with you? You’ve been robbed. Had ups and downs. Also some real
B: It’s pretty cool and crazy. Our new, well…he’s not really new anymore.
Our drummer Alan (Balamut) jumped in when we went on a tour with Broken Hope,
Fallujah, Kublai Kahn and Oceano. It was about a year and a half-two years
ago. That was his frst tour with us. The tour fell through. And the next tour
was Whitechapel and Alan got robbed. He kind of got double fucked from the
begining and he stuck with it. I think it’s cool he’s that into playing his
instrument he’s not just walking away from it. It’s a pretty solid group of
Maybe that was Alan’s hazing period and now everything will be awesome
B: Yeah, hopefully. We have some tours coming up, so every tour is a test.
Just how it happens.
Did you have fun making the “Sand Baptism” video?
B: It was really fun, actually. We recorded our video for “Mechanical Trees”
with Dave Brodsky and he’s the same guy we did this video with. We went to the
Poconos in Pennsylvania for a day. This guy’s property, a house with all this
land. He let us shoot on his property and afterwards we went to Dave Brodsky’s
house and shot the Sun part of the video. We were laughing the whole time and
had a good time with it.
How’d you get the overhead pan shot?
B: Yeah, that was actually pretty cool! The son of the guy who owned the
property was there and was like ,” Hey, I have a drone.” It had an HD camera
on it so he thought he could get some cool shots. I think those big, wide
shots look really awesome. The kid was only like ten years old or something
Good age to already have a production credit!
B: Yeah! He got a credit and he had a friend over that day who was interested
in making films and Dave Brodsky gave him one of his really expensive cameras.
“Here, stick this in the band members faces when they’re playing.” It was this
big production and half the people involved were like, little kids! I’m glad
people are digging it. At first we thought maybe people would think it was the
dumbest thing ever (note: the end of the video), but people are digging it
(laughing)…so, that’s good.
They say metal is for those of us who never grow up anyway. Look at Devin
Townsend, lol. Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming NYC release
show? I saw Meek Is Murder is on it.
B: Last month sometime we set up a show in our hometown of Redding but half of
our guys are from NYC now, so we decided to do a CD release show there too. We
booked a show at St Vitus. I know Frank from Meek Is Murder…he’s from Metal
Injection and I’ve known him awhile. And our buddies in Cognitive, we’ve been
playing shows with them for years. Vitus is always fun.
Yeah, I know Meek has been doing stuff with some of my friends from Candiria
B: Oh yeah, Candiria. They’re wild. Crazy people music! But yeah, it should be
a pretty good show. It kinda got announced a little late. Hopefully people
pick up on it. Full shows can be the best shows but we’ll have fun.