Rivers of Nihil
The Conscious Seed of Light

When samples of this relatively hyped Metal Blade release started dropping, I had several folks hit me up via email, Facebook and even Myspace telling me I should check these guys out and they were something I’d enjoy. And to some extent, they were all right: The Conscious Seed of Light is a pretty solid album of what I would term ‘modern death metal’ that wold appeal to fans of semi deathcore/death metal bands or bands that started as ‘core and went death metal like The Faceless, Whitechapel, Job For A Cowboy, Abiotic, Born of Osiris and such.

The thing is, while these young Pennsylvanian guys display oodles of talent, and inject their technically sound and often blistering style of modern death metal with ample atmospherics, solos and a few sci fi synths, it remains completely soulless. Not ‘great musicianship but forgetful songs’ soulless akin to some of the tech death metal bands like Origin and such, but just this completely processed, synthetic and overly surgical vibe that is hard to describe, but one that leaves me a little bit unfulfilled when the album is over.

The whole album from the writing, burly, overly processed guitar tone and gruff, semi shouted vocals of Jake Dieffenbach just feels hollow somehow. It’s like the band isn’t rather a collection of warm blooded humans playing music but some form of Metal Blade, robot lab created project (complete with overly familiar Dan Seagrave artwork) that uses everything that seems to move units in today’s scene. And while this almost cyber visage might fit the band, I don’t thing that was their intent.

As I already mentioned, Jake Dieffenbach has this Meshugahh-ish half shout/growl that lacks real death metal depth or presence, and the guitars of Brody Uttley and Jon Kunz, while skilled and occasionally delivering something memorable (i.e. lumbering “Soil & Seed”, the duality of “Central Antheneum”, or solo in “Place of Serpents”) just seem kind of rooted in Job For a Cowboy and The Black Dahlia Murder castoffs. Not that there is anything wrong with that, as there is an energy and skill on display here, but there really isn’t any distinguishable feature about Rivers of Nihil that makes them standout. They are not quite a full-on tech death act or a deathcore or a brutal death metal act, just this tantalizing proficient, competent middling act that doesn’t commit to either and tries to appease everyone.

That all being said, the album is not a bad album by any stretch, and while my negativity may seem off-putting, fans of any of the bands mentioned above will revel on Rivers of Nihil‘s modern, processed sound as the likes of “Human Adaption” or “A Fertile Altar” certainly deliver what fans would expect from a glossy, modern death metal band. I just prefer a hint of character. If only the band would deliver more stuff like 5 minute closer “Airless”, that sees the band lean into a more creative and experimental Cynic/Atheist on steroids tone, I’d be more inclined to dive in fully.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
November 11th, 2013


  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    agree 100%. I dug their sound but the songwriting lost my interest.

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