River of Souls
The Nihilist EP

I would imagine that the members of River of Souls have been called many things within their life and career, though I highly doubt that the term “slackers” has ever been one of them. Having just released their debut full-length, The Well of Urd, upon listeners just a mere few months ago, the band have already followed it up with the three song EP, The Nihilist. With a pretty decent running time of eighteen minutes, the new EP gives us two leftovers cut from their debut and one “newer” track penned toward the creation of their second full-length album, set to be recorded later this year. Though obviously cut from the same cloth, there is something adherently different in these three tracks opposed to any of The Well of Urd‘s material. Granted, it may only be a c*#t hair of a difference, but it is there. Yet honestly, none of The Nihilist‘s material really beseeches the authorative power found in any of the debut.

“Unmanifest” kicks things off with a short, simple, and elegant type of picking, much like the opening of Death‘s “Empty Words”, before shifting to slower and powerful riffing that ultimately, drives the track. It’s a pretty basic affair all in all, but the song manages a slight underlying dark swagger that mixes well with its pulsing and emotional simplicity. Title track, “The Nihilist”, has pretty much everything going for it that I loved about The Well of Urd. Its ability to recall the likes of Paradise Lost and Katatonia, while maintaining an identity itself is quite impressive. Quality change-ups abound within, whether it’s the picking beauty and drum fill excellence found at the 2:08 mark, or the somber-ish chords at the 3:01, eventually melding with organic clean vocals, grabbing me much in the same way as “Earthfather” or “Soilsorcerer” did on RoS‘ debut. Driving brutality immediately follows until the 5:20 mark, where a brutal, yet airy and spacey, progressive-like nature takes hold for just few moments until a forceful groove reminding me somewhat of Extol kicks in, eventually fading out and closing with awesome fills, spoken word, and a slightly melancholic hook.

The Nihilist closes out with the instrumental, “Requiem in Am”, (that’s A minor, in case ya didn’t know) which in the simplist of terms, “is sooo fucking good”; like the “Orion” of death-doom. Essentually working around one central melody/idea, the track conveys such an emotional depth and even simple elegance. It’s powerfully heavy and vastly impassioned, poignant, haunting, and even heartwarming. For me personally, “Requiem in Am” has earned a spot on the list of my favorite instrumental pieces. I don’t know why, but it just hits me in a perfect way.

I don’t really have any genuine complaints when it comes to The Nihilist. Honestly, I think the band should have added one more track as a closer to this EP. A short heavy rager would gave been the perfect. Not only would it increase the mini-album’s playing time to over twenty minutes, giving you a little more bang for your buck, but it would give you more of vocalist, Bart de Greef, who sounds crushing on “Unmanifest” and “The Nihilist”, and any excuse/reason to have more of his vocal dominace would be more than welcome. I’m not really sure if there is a legitimate need in River of Souls releasing an EP so soon after their debut release, but as a fan, I am very glad they did. It’s clear that River of Souls has something to say, and their not going to waste anytime in getting it said.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
February 14th, 2018


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