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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Rivers of Nihil – The Conscious Seed of Light

RiversOfNihil_MainGroupPromo

Unleashing a debut album which intrudes upon and explores the psyche, UK progressive death metallers Rivers of Nihil is a band with a ruinous sound built with superbly accomplished textures. The Conscious Seed of Light is a captivating confrontation which as it devours and stretches the senses you can only have the feeling that its creators are at the start of a certain ascent to major recognition. The release is a demanding and intrusion affair, one which needs numerous encounters to truly reap all of its rewards, but a release which constantly stimulates and ignites imagination and passions.

Formed in 2009 by vocalist Jake Dieffenbach, guitarist Jon Kunz, and drummer Ron Nelson, the band from Reading, Pennsylvania, was soon gripping attention locally with their dark heavy explorations. Extended to a quintet soon after their first live shows by the addition of guitarist Brody Uttley and bassist/vocalist Adam Biggs, Rivers Of Nihil subsequently released a pair of well received EPs, Hierarchy and Temporality Unbound in 2010 and 2011 respectively, whilst extending their live performances through shows and tours throughout the East Coast and Midwest as well as appearances at events such as Midwest Fuckfest with Dying Fetus, Misery Index and Arsis, and Akron Deathfest with Complete Failure. As their stock rose the band continued to reap praise for their live performances which saw them going on to share stages with the likes of Suffocation, The Faceless, Despised Icon, Revocation, Beneath the Massacre, Dysrhythmia, Decapitated, Six Feet Under and more. September 2012 saw the band sign to Metal Blade Records before entering the studio earlier this year with Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal, ex-Morbid Angel) at Mana Recording Studios (Cannibal Corpse, Goatwhore, Exhumed) to record The Conscious Seed of Light. The result is an intense and dramatically agreeable death metal violation, a confrontation which is as abrasive as it is magnetic and as destructive as it is violently seductive. With essences of the likes of Morbid Angel, Gojira, and Decapitated to its uncompromising depths and presence the album is a release which cries out for attention, and you suspect will eagerly receive it.

      The Conscious Seed of Light is planned as the first of four related albums, each reflecting a season with Spring the theme of the band’s Coverdebut which explores “various themes concerning new beginnings, growth, and an attachment to the natural world in a post-human Earth.” It opens with Terrestria I: Thaw, the track a short instrumental which sets out the soundscape for the release to expand upon. The melodic breath and progressive endeavour of the piece is an instant if not quite dramatic draw which builds up its pressure and intensity to flow into the torrential assault of Rain Eater, its rhythms and vocals a squalling tempest of malevolence and creative causticity. Dieffenbach has a nastily grazing delivery which easily pleases and makes a great rub upon the sonically melodic enterprise which spawns from the guitars. As emerges across all songs, there is plenty going on within the vicious maelstrom, a wealth of invention which needs time to reveal its full suasion but provides potent and exhilarating rapacious flights each and every time.

The impressive start flows into the equally compelling Birth of the Omnisavior and Soil & Seed, both unbridled individual creative predations which leads senses and thoughts on a savage stalking of emotions and a dark damning aural storm. The second of the two is especially a bestial inventive ravaging which hints of directions across its sinewed flank but persistently just as you think you are on course with its intent twists down new avenues, its craft and mastery making for one of the major highlights of the release.

Across an album which holds its imaginative heights at lofty levels throughout, further immense pinnacles come with the dangerously addictive riff chugging Mechanical Trees and the intensive sonically scalding Human Adaptation with its Meshuggah like air splintering malefaction, whilst closing track Airless is a lasting voracious transgression which invites the listener to take the sonic tsunami of The Conscious Seed of Light all over again.

Not exactly an easy listen at times and a release with moments where distinction between tracks is lost without a really deliberate focus on the encounters the album is nevertheless an exciting provocation from a band you just feel has explosive horizons ahead of them. Rivers of Nihil is a name we will be hearing draped in acclaim starting with The Conscious Seed of Light.

https://www.facebook.com/riversofnihil

8/10

RingMaster 17/10/2013

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