by Ryan Meehan
Born from the ruins of their decaying hometown of Reading, Pennsylvania, Rivers of Nihil are on a relentless path of taking their music to the next level. Formed in 2009 the modern progressive death metal quintet’s music is as dark and heavy as the coal and iron their home city was built upon, taking influences from some of death metal’s heaviest, most abrasive hitters: Morbid Angel, Gojira, Spawn of Possession, and Decapitated, to name a few. In March of 2013 ROH entered the studio with death metal master Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal, ex-Morbid Angel) at Mana Recording Studios (Cannibal Corpse, Goatwhore, Exhumed) in St. Petersburg, FL to begin the recording of their first full-length album and Metal Blade Records debut, The Conscious Seed of Light. Guitarist Brody Uttley said, “Working with Erik was a true privilege. Coming from the DIY circuit and immediately recording with one of greatest death metal producers of all time pushed us all more than we ever could have expected, both as musicians and as people. We have grown tremendously as a band in all aspects because of our experience with Erik.” Echoing this sentiment bassist/vocalist Adam Biggs stated, “working at Mana was a pretty intense and mind-blowing experience for all of us. We’ve recorded at a few high-level studios in the past but working with Erik is a completely different ball game. The man hears every minute detail of everything being played, which really pushed us to know our music on a level we didn’t realize was possible. Recording The Conscious Seed of Light was an intense experience, and I believe that intensity translates directly to the listener.” We heard more from Adam Biggs as he was our guest this week in 5 questions.
RM: How did everybody in the band come to know each other and what were some similar influences that you shared enough to want to work together creatively?
AB: We all have known each other through rubbing elbows and playing in different bands in our local music scene for a good number of years prior to the band forming. Jake, Jon, and Ron were in a band together for a while that they sort of rebuilt into an early version of Rivers of Nihil. Brody and I joined after our previous band fell apart. I had already stood in on bass for the first Rivers recordings so it seemed like a natural choice.
In the beginning I think it was bands like Behemoth, Cattle Decapitation, Origin, and Meshuggah that we all talked about the most. But really the influence always just seemed like a desire to make good quality death metal.
RM: What can you you tell us about the new album “The Conscious Seed of Light”? What’s the meaning behind the title of that record?
AB: The album is something of a new beginning for the band. It’s our first full-length record and our first release through Metal Blade so it’s a big step for us in a lot of ways. The title comes from a lyric in our previous ep. It was meant to describe a certain state of achievement in clarity, which is what the characters from the stories in the lyrics on the album are each striving for.
RM: Coulf you briefly describe the process of making that disc? What was it like working with Erik Rutan and what was he able to teach you during your time in the studio?
AB: Making the album was tough, it was a much larger studio workload than we had ever had to take on before and just the scale of the release made every little detail that much more important. We had three weeks to work with Erik, and while that seems like a good chunk of time it just flies by so fast. There was a lot of pressure to get it done in time but also to put out something we’re all proud of, and I think we achieved that end. Erik’s “old-school” style of recording really taught us a lot, he gets the most out of each individual take, whereas some producers might resort to building the performance in pro-tools, he never gave us that option and it pushed us to our limits as players.
RM: How has your experience been on the road so far? Is it a little intimidating touring with bands who have been together for a lot longer and have done live shows for decades?
AB: The road is tough, and we’re spending way more time touring now then ever before. But it’s a very rewarding experience. Touring with these bands, it’s less of a feeling of intimidation and more of a “what can we learn?” type of feeling. It’s an honor to share the stage night after night with such seasoned bands and we do what we can to come out of each experience a little more ready for the next one.
RM: Out of all of your years as a bassist, what’s the worst pain that you’ve suffered through as a result of performing? What steps have you taken to ensure that somthing like that doesn’t happen again?
AB: I carry my bass head in a fairly heavy road case. Most times I ask my bandmates to help me carry it on stage/put it on top of my speaker cabinet. One time, however, it seemed like everyone was pretty busy so I decided that I’d try to do it myself rather than bother anyone. It turned out that was a mistake. I lifted my very heavy road case up in front of my face, obscuring my vision and sacrificing sureness of footing (not to mention the potential damage to my back). I made my way to the stage, assuming all was well in hand, but I was wrong. My sloppy footing turned out to be my undoing as I tripped on the edge of the stage and went tumbling, quite slowly, to the ground, heavy road case and all. Did it hurt a lot? No. The pain was mostly mental. I guess I’ll just ask for help next time.
RM: What’s up next for Rivers of Nihil in the remainder of 2013 and into 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
AB: We’re heading out on tour with Dying Fetus, Exhumed and our friends in Abiotic for the next week and a half soon so that’ll be pretty killer. We have a few things in the works for the new year but it’s still a little too early to be opening my big mouth about it.
Rivers of Nihil at Metal Blade Records: http://www.metalblade.com/us/artists/rivers-of-nihil
Rivers of Nihil on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/
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