Rivers of Nihil

Rivers of Nihil

‘The Work’ is the big conclusion to our four-album concept series based on the seasons. It’s the ‘winter’ record if you couldn’t tell just by looking at the art, and the whole thing represents the season to its very core. It’s cold and bitter and unforgiving, a painful struggle at moments, but there are moments of warmth, nostalgia, and hope for the future within the icy chill. The themes on the record reflect the times in which it was conceived. The members of Rivers all live spread out across the US, so we’re used to writing our material remotely, but with the pandemic in full swing, we’d never been more divided. We were unsure whether or not the world at large would even let us continue to be a band. But we soldiered on, masked up every day in the studio while the country battled itself over the presidential race in 2020. Long story short, it felt like the world didn’t want us to make this record, but we came together to make it our most personal and engaging material yet simply because this is what we do.

We’ve never really aimed at being ‘outrageous’ per se. I like to keep typical metal lyric tropes like violence out of the picture when possible. However, earlier in our career, we’d use more fantasy-based imagery to tell a personal story that aligns with whichever ‘season’ we’d happen to be covering. For The Work, I decided it was time to drop perhaps the artifice of the fantasy element in our lyrics in lieu of a more real-world metatextual style. The lyrics are meant to speak to our everyday struggles in an increasingly complicated and unforgiving world, and I didn’t want to hide that meaning behind a curtain. The record often intends to speak to the listener directly, and it’s all general enough for them to apply their own personal experiences and struggles to the lyrics. You’ll get out of it what you put in; it is ‘The Work’ after all.

We have a pretty rigorous demoing process. Brody can use his talents as an audio engineer to paint a clear picture of what the record will be in its final form. So, when we have an arrangement of demo tracks that feel like they’re ready to be made into a record, we do it. Things like deadlines do play a factor, but they’re usually self-imposed; we don’t experience much interference from outside entities thankfully.

As a person and an artist I try not to limit myself in terms of ideology and experience. All of these things are a part of the larger tapestry of life, so I believe anyone who repels any one ideology in favor of another is surely missing something. I consider making art to be a sort of ‘pursuit of truth’ and there is truth in every ideology.

There are a lot of little bread-crumbs that lead me to this style of music. My dad introducing me to Judas Priest when I was a kid, the nu-metal explosion of the late 90’s, finding myself entrenched in the local hardcore scene in early 00’s Pennsylvania, to finally playing in bands myself. It seemed to be the most active music scene happening around me in my youth, and it felt like the price of participation wasn’t all that high so it felt like I naturally gravitated toward it. Sometimes I think about it though; if there were a bunch of kids in my high school trying to start say…country music bands for example then maybe I would have ended up doing that. But there weren’t, there were kids I knew trying to start metal and hardcore bands and I wanted to play music so that’s what I did.

Music is absolutely a spiritual experience, art is inherently and inextricably connected to the human spirit, and the closest interpretation of what we call God/the universe or whatever you prefer. But, it can also simply be entertainment, what really matters is the intention behind the art and what is being communicated to the person on the receiving end.

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