Unveiling seasons: an interview with Jon Kunz of Rivers of Nihil

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The Conscious Seed of Light is a startling album, a captivating confrontation which devours and stretches senses and thoughts alike with superbly accomplished textures and ruinous craft. The debut from UK progressive death metallers Rivers of Nihil it is an incendiary and uncompromising slab of inventive death metal which resourcefully and skilfully earns all the deserved acclaim it has and will receive. Seizing the opportunity to find out more we had the pleasure to talk about the album, its theme, production and much more with guitarist Jon Kunz.

Hello Jon and thanks for talking with us.

Firstly can you give us some background to the band, it members, and the time leading up to and the beginnings of Rivers of Nihil?

The band was formed in the spring of 2009. Me, Ron, and Jake played in a band prior to forming Rivers of Nihil. We played 1 show as a trio, with Brody and Biggs joining almost immediately after the show. They both were the core of a band who had line-up problems , so they decided to end the band and join up with us. Biggs actually played bass on the first Rivers of Nihil demo, which was a Basement recording of “Human Adaptation”. Brody also filled in for a few shows on second guitar in our old band, so the connection was already there. We tried unsuccessfully to have Brody join Rivers when we first formed, but he was still committed to his other band.

Was there a particular intent or drive to the band as it came to life?

After our old band ended, me and Ron continued to jam on some stuff, but nothing really was working out. We were bullshitting one night about playing shows and how much fun we had, so we figured we’d try to do another band and play death metal. That was the only goal when the band formed and still is our main goal to this day.

Tell us about the band name, is there a big story/meaning behind it or is it just one which emerged and sounded good?

Like any other band naming process, we were throwing around name and Jake said “river of nihilist” or something similar that sounded cool but didn’t make sense whatsoever. I thought of “rivers of nihil” as the idea of existence being nothing. We made the idea fit the name after we came up with it , so it really means nothing.

You have just released your impressive debut album The Conscious Seed of Light, a release we called a demanding and intrusion affair as RiversOfNihil-TheConsciousSeedOfLightwell as one which constantly stimulates and ignites the imagination and passions. There is a definite organic feel to the offering as it provokes and incites the senses; how much is natural evolution in your music and how much of the album was a deliberate steering of its direction and intent?

Thank you! We’re glad the album moved you in such a way. We were looking for a very bleak and depressive atmosphere, something that can give you the chills. That much was intentional, as was the way we approached the songwriting. With the exception of the older tracks we re-recorded, we wanted to write songs, no just some riff and riff thing.

The album is according to the promo release with it, the first of ‘four separate albums tied together with one common theme: each reflecting a particular season of a year.’ Can you expand on that for us and will there be an intense and interlinking connection to the releases than just the overall idea?

Each album will be tied together by the seasons. The next will be the summer. How it’s linked together besides the seasons? Wait and see….

The songs within The Conscious Seed of Light undoubtedly work singularly but equally do feel as if part of a larger canvas. How easy was that to achieve or was it more a case of letting tracks find their own place in the theme naturally?

There wasn’t any thought of naturally linking the songs, rather we wrote them to be able to stand strong on their own before anything else such as theme or concept. When the record was finished being written, we realized they all offer something different but still work cohesively which is awesome. We definitely want the listener to take in the whole thing in from front to back though.

How does the songwriting and its realisation work within Rivers Of Nihil from a song’s initial concept?

Either me or Brody will come forward with some riffs or even a whole song and we’ll start working on it in the practice spot. The last few songs that were written we’re demoed on Brody’s computer , so that is something that we’ll be moving towards with songwriting for the next album.

You recorded The Conscious Seed of Light with legendary producer Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal, ex-Morbid Angel). How did that come about and how was the experience?

We’re forever indebted to Erik. He reached out to us after we released our first EP expressing how much he dug the band and wanted to record us if the opportunity ever presented itself. Being able to record with a death metal legend such as Erik was incredible and something we’ll all keep in mind for the rest of our lives.

Did you learn new things about your songs whilst working with Erik and what emerged most potently from the recording which you will take into future releases?

For sure…the biggest thing we realized is a lot of our riffs, especially the octave chord ones, are a huge pain in the ass to record due to our low tuning. We had a hell of a time keeping our guitars in tune perfectly for those parts. I think we look at riffs more closely in that regard now.

riversofnihilband2013_638Do your songs continue to evolve from their  ‘demo’ state in the recording process or are you a band which has a pretty much tied down idea and intent with how tracks will emerge before entering the studio?

We have everything completely finished going into the studio. We do pre – production to keep things as smoothly as possible. The studio is stressful enough as it is, outfit it knowing the songs going in make it a million times harder.

How would you say your songwriting and sound has evolved since your early EPs, Hierarchy and Temporality Unbound of 2010 and 2011 respectively?

I’d say we’ve realized the power of song and feeling rather than sheer brutality. A lot of early stuff relied heavy on that, but it’s the easy thing to do for us. We find more enjoyment now doing things the way we do, but I guess you can relate that to growing up a bit. The first Rivers song was written when I was 18. I’m 23 now, I hope I’ve grown up a bit since then !

What brought about the link up with Metal Blade Records, who did the chasing 😉

Tour, tour, tour . Honestly I’d say the hard work we put into this band brought us to the attention of Metal Blade.

Can you tell us about the great artwork for The Conscious Seed of Light?

Dan Seagrave is the fucking man. When we were brainstorming ideas for album art, he was at the top of the list of artists we’d want. Luckily for us he dug the concept and we got a sick piece of artwork.

You are and have been touring and gigging intensely for the album, an area we assume which is just as much a potent outlet and adventure for your creativity and imagination, not forgetting energy. How has that been going and what is ahead for the rest of the year going into 2014?

Touring has been great for us. Being able to go out and see new places and meet new people is a huge reason why we do what we do. The energy you experience on stage is intense, it’s soul appeasing. We’ll continue to do what we do in 2014 and onward.

Are you already deep into plans of the next songs and album or is that too early to contemplate right now?rivers-of-nihil

Maybe 😉 the album was released less than a month ago, it’s still way too early.

We have our ideas but what does The Conscious Seed of Light hold which makes it an important and to our mind an essential investigation for our readers?

It’s hard for me to separate myself considering how much we put into the record. We try to keep it real. No bullshit.

Once again many thanks for sharing time with us. Would you like to leave a final thought or word?

Thank you for the interview ! Get drunk.

Read the review of The Conscious Seed of Light @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/rivers-of-nihil-the-conscious-seed-of-light/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 04/11/2013

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Calling All Astronauts – Red Flag EP

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Following on from their impressive debut album Post Modern Conspiracy, UK electro goth punks Calling All Astronauts confirm their potent presence within British electro rock with the invigorating Red Flag EP. A track which shone upon their full length release as one of the year’s best electro punk anthems, the London based trio revamp and re-ignite its already mighty presence with a full blaze of inventive explorations. Consisting of five full-bodied investigations for the cost of a single track, the Red Flag EP is a magnetic persuasion to inspire all musical appetites.

Since emerging in 2011 the band has sculpted a rich position in the goth/electro punk scene with a lyrical attack and sound which crosses and merges those elements and more skilfully and distinctly, whilst their live performances has pulled in equal acclaim with the band sharing stages with the likes of Echo & The Bunnymen, PWEI, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, and A Place To Bury Strangers whilst also headlining and selling out Alan Magee’s Death2Disco at Notting Hill Arts Club. As shown with previous singles such as Someone Like You and What’s So Good About?, and across the impressively confronting Post Modern Conspiracy, the threesome of David B (vocals, keys, programming), J Browning (guitar), and Kristi Bury (bass) take no prisoners lyrically and musically and Red Flag is no exception. Following the progress of the band has bred the thought that it is time for the band to make the next step up and this EP alongside their recent album might just be the spark needed.

The release opens with the In Your Bass Mix of the title track, a thumping brew of rhythmic provocation and scarring guitar driven by the caustic delivery of David B. There is a schizophrenic breath to the mix, a St. Vitus’ Dance rabidity to the sonic squall and a rhythm casting enslavement to the heavily boned goth rock bruising. It is an excellent start, a version which easily challenges and matches the original cut of the track which follows in its Single Edit form straight after. A more restrained presence is uncaged by the band with a Sisters Of Mercy/Play Dead like throat to the vocals and a deep pulsating bass shadow wrapping the fiery guitar play. Red Flag is a song easily accessible but one taking the listener through almost cavernous resonating realms, whichever version you frequent, whilst a lyrical incitement hits home without over playing its touch. It is a compelling blend, one impossible to resist.

Next up comes the Gothstep Mix and the E39 NYC Club Edit of the track, the first an industrial stalked version which brings a Gary Numan like breath alongside almost bedlamic electro surges and squeals, and the second an incendiary dancefloor stomp which has feet in league with its sonic fascination. Both tracks add something different to the song but neither manages to match the heights of the first two or the following album version of the track. Expanded to its full glory, the final track is ultimately the best version of Red Flag though it is easy to take either of the main versions of the track and give them equal lustful responses.

If the Red Flag is your introduction to Calling All Astronauts there is no finer a way to walk through their creative door and if already a fan, the release makes a stirring and impressive companion to their must have album.

http://www.callingallastronauts.com/

http://callingallastronauts1.bandcamp.com/releases

8/10

RingMaster 04/11/2013

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Ironclad – Strike & Ravage

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It is fair to say that genres are not being re-invented or boundaries pushed with the Strike & Ravage EP from Finnish metallers Ironclad, but equally it is very easy to declare the release as one extremely enjoyable and undemanding yet commanding slab of heavy metal. Like Motorhead does power metal with the classic respective attributes of Exodus and Iron Maiden adding strong aggression to the mix, release and band makes for an extremely satisfying confrontation. It is not without elements which labour a little but as an invigorating encounter it is a very easy fit for the emotions.

Released via Violent Journey Records, Strike & Ravage immediately turns heat onto the ear with the entrance of the title track. The Ironclad_800opener is a blaze of melodic endeavour and flames from the off, the guitar of Duke Belmont a sonic sabre across sturdy riffs and sinew bursting rhythms, and once the Lemmy like delivery of vocalist Edward Steelgun unleashes his gravelly growl the track is in full stride and drawing an eager appetite for its persuasive charge and riotous folk metal like chorus. The bass of Dick Wolfgang prowls through the track without leaping at the ear but alongside the rhythms of Thorborg Bomber provides the intimidation and shadows needed to temper and compliment the burning guitar causticity. It is a straightforward attack yet one which ignites the imagination with a pleasing raw stomp which only leaves you wanting more.

Its successor comes in the equally rapacious form of Harder Than Steel, another track which simply snarls and rampages through the ears with recognisable but richly satisfying endeavour and resourcefulness. A contagious groove spears the track, a thrash cored incendiary device that leaves limbs, neck, and emotions alive before its arguably predictable but undoubtedly anthemic temptation. As good as the starter was, the second song on the EP is a masterful recruitment of the passions, the kind of expectations filling bruising you can easily devour with greed.

The following Warriors is less successful, though again a song which is well crafted and delivered. It is a mixed bag of success though it is more personal tastes dictating than a lacking on the song’s part. The heavy throaty bass stalking is immense throughout whilst the predatory riff attacks only spark a belt of pleasure but tempering their potency is the atmospheric keys brewed ambience and slow drawl of a vocal narrative which diminishes the power of all the highlights of the track. It is the most imaginative and adventurous song on Strike & Ravage but least successful because of that, though for others you can only imagine it is the opposite.

The closing Demon Heart returns to the snarling ravaging of the first two tracks, its carnivorous intent and storm of voracious riffery a brawling pleasure. The rhythms within the track are rabidly unrelenting alongside riffs which persistently taunt the ear whilst the vocals bring a good blend of scathing and harmonic venture to enhance the force of the track. With another groove to incite a lustful appetite, the song is a thrilling conclusion to a rather satisfying encounter.

As mentioned the Strike & Ravage EP is not going to set scenes alight or leave the listener slack-jawed but for a turbulent sprawl of honest rock ‘n’ roll, Ironclad get the job done with an obligingly eventful and rousing riot.

http://www.facebook.com/ironcladband

7/10

RingMaster 04/11/2013

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PET – Talk To You

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A song which seduces the senses and intrigues thoughts whilst taking emotions on a mesmeric dance, Talk To You the new single from German electro pop band PET, is an enchanting invitation for the upcoming album from the Berlin sextet. Released via Neun Volt Records, the song is a magnetic persuasion which as the lead track from the forthcoming Imitation of Life, makes an investigation of the band’s new album a must.

Hailing from Berlin, PET have bred plenty of acclaim and attention with their singles such as No Yes No and the albums Player One Ready (2004) and Rewind The Sofa Lady (2006). Taking influences from the likes of Roxy Music, Blondie, XTC, and Buzzcocks into their mesmeric weaves, Pet with a new line-up consisting of guitarist/vocalist Andre Abshagen, keyboardist/vocalist from Monika Martin, drummer Dodo NKishi, bassist Stefania Vacca, percussionist Eric Voss, and newest member Julie Miess on bass and keys, has evolved its trademark electro-beats and sophisticated melodic venturing to new thrilling levels, certainly on the evidence of Talk To You.

The song opens with striking electro spirals of sonic temptation over excited beats. It is an instantly enthralling invitation which having 581168_759531444072274_29682852_nawoken attention settles into an embrace of melodic caresses around soothing vocals. There is an enchantment to the delivery which kisses the ear constantly whilst the bass litters the scenery with a delicious dark shadowed tone persistently skirted by the strikes of funk gaited guitar and the fascination of keys. Virulently infectious and evocatively entrancing the song is a sirenesque call upon the dancefloor and a contagious bait for the impending full-length release.

Supported by a remix of the song by Sao Paulo based DJ, Kina, a track which stretches out the emotive punchiness of the original without losing its snap and intensive catchiness, the single is an appealing and thoroughly enjoyable encounter. Wholly hypnotic with a seeming simplicity which belies the craft and intently sculpted textures of the sounds, Talk To You is a irresistible temptation, one quite impossible to ignore the invitation from.

Imitation of Life is due for release 28th November

https://www.facebook.com/PETmusicBerlin

8/10

RingMaster 04/11/2013

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Sam Thomas – Internal Ether

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From the release of his debut single I’m Gonna Be A Witch earlier this year, UK multi-instrumentalist Sam Thomas continues to impress and mark himself as one of the most potent and exciting new talents to emerge lately. Third single Internal Ether is the next instalment of his impressive arrival on the British rock scene, a track which makes a compelling declaration of craft and enterprise within an absorbing provocative sonic narrative.

Thomas composes with the influence of slow-building classical inspirations which draped his growing up alongside The Beatles and Beach Boys, in a union with the rock sounds he discovered later in life, the likes of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Guns ‘n’ Roses flavouring his unique invention and exploration. The result is a passion fuelled post-rock sound aligned to soft pastoral calms, a merger which instantly impressed on his first single and continues to on Internal Ether. The successor to Gift and taken from his impressive debut album Blind Theatre, the new single is an absorbing adventure which sparks the imagination and feed the emotions with ease.

Opening within a gentle and seductive guitar sculpted embrace, the track is soon casting its provocatively hued painting over thoughts. With potently enticing strings adding their emotive touch to the emerging canvas alongside a guitar which strokes and inspires the imagination into self-reflection and inventive interpretation, the song swells in stature as it progresses. There is also a brewing passion and intensity which fills every corner and aspect of the song, a force which is always held in check but allowed to express its full voice as the track works towards its closing sonic tempest. The vocal samples within the encounter do not quite work as well or as richly as the music but certainly have no ill effect upon the quality and strength of the piece.

The single is completed by a remix of Internal Ether from Opdot, the duo of Tim Laverack and Gavin Kirtley who are Just Music label mates of Thomas. Their version impressively manages to steer the track into another riveting direction without losing the sentiment and heart of the song. It is a pleasing and resourceful take which stands side by side with its source for equal effect and success.

Sam Thomas continues to prove he is an artist it would be foolish to take eyes and ears off of; to miss every step of his ascent a deprivation for the senses and imagination which would be very regrettable as he surely moves on to even greater things and plateaus ahead.

http://samthomasmusic.com

8/10

RingMaster 04/11/2013

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Young Knives – Sick Octave

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Unpredictability and imagination not forgetting compelling ingenuity has always fuelled the sounds and invention of Young Knives, their unique blend of post punk and indie pop never low on surprises and persistently high on infectiousness and experimentation. The UK band’s new and fourth album Sick Octave as expected is no departure from that intent but takes the exploration and experimentation of their songwriting to new riveting heights. Taking further the challenging enterprise which has been hinted at on previous albums through songs like Tailors, I Can Hardly See Them, and Storm Clouds, the trio dives head first into a hungry invention which maybe ebbs and flows a little in its success but undoubtedly emerges within the new release as an ultimately magnetic adventure.

Financed through Kickstarter, the wholly DIY made album is a mesmeric landscape of striking and seductive persuasion, one which tests and pushes limits for band and listener but rewards richly, especially the more time  you spend in its taunting arms. There are moments and tracks where quizzical expressions find a home on the face but even in those less persuasive times the Young Knives leaves a temptation which ensures you feel a need to explore just that little more. Whether Sick Octave will find the success and responses of previous albums such as their debut Voices of Animals and Men of 2006 and Superabundance two years later, amongst certainly more fair weather fans is debatable but for those with an already waiting appetite for the band’s deeper aural research it is a release which potently satisfies.

Released on their own Gadzook Recordings there is a feeling of freedom to the album, something which possibly was pent up and restrained on earlier releases from label restrictions. Through a comparison to its predecessor alone, the 2011 album Ornaments from the Silver Arcade, there is a bolder, braver, and hunger to the invention upon Sick Octave which feels like the band has been able to uncaged  a new bolder creativity, and they have never been slouches in that department from day one. Young Knives opens the album up with the brief 12345, an entangled vocal countdown made by children which is the first raising of eyebrows. It is immediately forgotten though with the arrival of Owls of Athens, the song exploding into view with eager electro bait. Like a jaunt with Sigue Sigue Sputnik whilst a haunted sax wails appealingly in its riveting sky, the track roams around the senses with an addictive bait washed with melodic brass flames and the fine vocals of Henry Dartnall, ably backed by the rest of the band. The song is a smouldering temptation, one which never truly explodes but teases and provokes with craft and a contagious invention to immediately awaken the passions with its spellbinding presence.

The following We Could Be Blood opens up another distinct tempting avenue. The bass of The House Of Lords emotively twangs across the ear at first to be soon joined by Dartnall’s voice and the caressing touch of a Hammond organ. With the beats of Oliver Askew firmly framing the start there is an eruption of melodic fire from within the gentle stroll, an energy which subsequently shares time and position with the melancholic call of the track. One of the slow burners upon the album, the song is a pleasing encounter which sets the emotions and thoughts up nicely for the strikingly impressive suasions of All Tied Up and White Sands. The first from a raw feisty start, the guitars chewing up the opening ambience, strolls through a warped tango like weave of rhythmic and sonic enterprise. There is a Talking Heads breath to its body that plays mischievously within the darker heavier croon of the song, shadows which have the scent of Joy Division to their encroaching. It is a masterful venture soon surpassed by its sensational successor. White Sands is a schizophrenic rhythmic bewitchment which manages to rein in its full insanity to make an addictive cage for the predacious bass lures and carving guitar strikes, the mix an imagination stirring narrative led by the continuing to impress vocals, the album Dartnall’s finest hour so far one suggests.

Something Awful, a song inspired by Dartnall’s Grandfather and his battle with Alzheimers, opens up deeper intensive lyrical shadows with a  brewed intimidation within the words with is powerfully interpreted by the music. A melodic swagger with bright tones crossed with rapacious challenging furies, the track is a thrilling provocateur for the senses and thoughts which flows into Preset Columns/ Default Comets, the track a less convincing evolution of its predecessor which leaves thoughts a little uncertain even after numerous flights through its sonic soundscape.

Both Bella Bella and Marble Maze ignite greater strength within the open appetite for the album, the first of the two a chilling cross between Wire and Blur whilst the second sees the band in many ways reverting to the sound and structure of earlier songs in their career but with an approach awash with emotive strings and spiralling intensity which burns a deep satisfaction into thoughts. Both songs fail to match some of the earlier heights crafted but still keep a fascination intently alive as does the jazz bedlam of Green Island Red Raw, the song a wanton scattering of ideas within a containing cloak of timing and restraint which just works if without setting blazes in the passions, though the bass work is quite delicious.

From the decent enough short rub of scuzziness that is Score, the album goes out on a major high with firstly the excellent Bed Warmer followed by the closing treat of Maureen. The penultimate song is a wonderfully abrasive and fiery encounter which rubs the senses up the right and wrong way to leave them wanting more whilst succumbing to the rabidity fuelling the energy and invention of the song, again something which harkens back in a way to their Young Knives…Are Dead EP with an extra sinewy splatter of Baddies infectiousness to it. The final song is the band at its melodic and lyrically incisive best whilst stretching their inventive boundaries. Another David Byrne like inspired festivity flirts with the dark veins of the song whilst its chorus is a virulent call which lays a healthy dose of funk spicery into the mix, with Dartnall at times delving into his finest John Lydon squall.

     Sick Octave is an enthralling and thrilling release which suggests the next chapter of the Young Knives adventure is going to be a highly captivating one. The album may not be another Superabundance but it is without doubt a charismatic tantalising slice of instinctive excitement.

http://www.young-knives.com/

8.5/10

RingMaster 04/11/2013

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