Progressive death metal band Rivers of Nihil have recently unleashed their third album Where Owls Know My Name, and what a monster it is. This is the sound of a creative force pushing the envelope of what death metal is capable of, exploring wider extreme metal waters with confidence and skill.
Guitarist Jonathan Topore answered some questions about the band and how their latest opus came to be…
Introduce us to Rivers of Nihil – what are your influences?
We are a 5 piece band based mainly from Reading PA. We’re a progressive death metal band. Some of my influences are bands like Decapitated, Meshuggah, Soreption, Beneath the Massacre, TBDM, and Lamb of God.
Name five things you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend
1. Olafur Arnalds
2. Pianos Become the Teeth
3. Kublai Khan
5. Shawn Lane
Tell us about the concept behind Where Owls Know My Name
It’s a more personal album that’s supposed to reflect the fall season.
The musical progression from Monarchy to Where Owls Know My Name is striking – how much of this evolution was a natural development, and how much was deliberate and thought-through?
I’d say a mix of both. I wouldn’t say that this progression just happened by accident. We did sit down together and thought about how we wanted this album to sound. Brody and I would share ideas and riffs back and forth and then pick out what we liked and what we didn’t . Also the use of other instruments like the melatron was very deliberate. So most of the musical progression from Monarchy to where Owls Know My Name was deliberate.
How would you compare your latest release to Monarchy and The Conscious Seed of Light?
We still have those juicy heavy parts that are pissed and fun to play, but our latest release has more instruments like the saxophone and synthesizers which really add to our sound. There’s more parts in the songs that are experimental and have a unique sound.
How did you go about writing the songs?
Brody and I both have home studio setups at our houses so we both write riffs and program drums and then send ideas back and forth to each other and then we nit pick from there. We also have large sample library’s of virtual instruments that we utilise into the demos to get even more creative and build a wall of sound.
How did the recording process go, and did this change your approach to the songwriting?
I went to Brody’s studio to record my song on the album “Old Nothing” we basically recorded the DI guitar tracks to programmed drums and made sure those tracks are super tight. And then we did the same with bass and then when we went into the studio we re-amped the guitars and bass and then recorded live drums and vocals and put it all together! It didn’t really change our approach to songwriting. This is how we’ve been writing and recording for a while now.
How happy are you with the end result, and if you had to do it all over again, would you do anything differently?
Extremely happy with the end result. Everything came out perfect and wouldn’t want to change anything about it 🙂
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
My favourite song would have to be Terrestria III. When the song hits, it’s just this massive sound that you get submerged in. It’s very industrial sounding and also reminds me of a film soundtrack so that’s a plus for me. The chord progression and melody of that song just makes me feel a certain way I can’t explain. It definitely has an emotional impact.
Tell us about the album artwork – how does this fit into the theme of the album and its significance?
The album artwork to me is very emotional. It has this sad feel to it. The man on the front just shows sorrow from his face. The artwork was made by Dan Seagrave and he’s a phenomenal artist. It’s the fall season and everything is getting cold and dying and the man on the from resembles that very well.
How important do you think album artwork is in today’s increasingly digital environment?
I think it’s still very important because the artwork just puts a visual to the music behind it. They both work together.
What are your goals for the album?
To tour as much as we can and just share our music with as many people as we can.
What upcoming tour plans do you have?
What would be your dream tour?
My dream tour would be with Meshuggah, Lamb of God, and The Black Dahlia Murder.
Apart from touring, what are your plans for the rest of 2018?
Just to keep on playing music and practising and recording as much as I can!
Any final words?
Keep an eye out for awesome tours coming up, and hope to see you guys on the road soon. Thanks!