Music / Rivers of Nihil

Rivers of Nihil is an American progressive death metal band. Known for their eclectic sound that folds in the assorted influences of all of its members, they have become a fast-rising star in the death metal world and are poised to take it by storm.

Formed in Reading, Pennsylvania in 2009 by Jake Dieffenbach (vocals), Jonathan Kunz and Brody Uttley (guitars), Adam Biggs (bass, vocals) and Ron Nelson, the band quickly built up a live reputation that helped make Hierarchy, their debut EP, an underground hit in 2010. Shows throughout the Northeast helped continue the momentum, as did their second EP, Temporality Unbound, which came out in late 2011. It was sometime around this period that Erik Rutan discovered them on MySpace and left them a message praising them and informing them of his desire to work with them someday. This, along with a successful tour with their buddies in Kamikabe, only served to further embolden them; when offered a deal with Metal Blade Records in 2012, it became apparent that their hard work had paid off. Recording for their full-length began in March of 2013; come that October, The Conscious Seed of Light was released and met with much fanfare and critical acclaim. Various tours followed; additionally, 2014 brought the band's first hiccup, as Ron Nelson decided to leave and was replaced by Alan Balamut. Additionally, their first major tour of that year with Oceano, Broken Hope, Fallujah, and Kublai Khan ended early due to a string of ill fortune that struck every band on the bill except them and resulted in the cancellation of the tour; thankfully, another tour with Whitechapel and DevilDriver was just around the corner and went fine, so it's likely that that was just a bump in the road. Kunz later quit in September and was replaced by Jon Topore, and the band is currently preparing to embark on the "Swamp Leper Stomp" tour with the newest Death to All lineup, Obituary, and Massacre. Their second album, Monarchy, is slated for a late summer 2015 release. Around the end of 2015, Alan Balamut left due to a mix of a rough financial situation and a desire to finally finish school; Dylan Potts was brought on as a live fill-in and was inducted as a full-time member sometime after. He did not work out and was gone by the end of 2016, however, and Jared Klein was brought in as a fill-in before being made full-time himself in 2017.


  • Hierarchy (2010) - EP
  • Temporality Unbound (2011) - EP
  • The Conscious Seed of Light (2013)
  • Monarchy (2015)

The band contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Album Title Drop:
    • "Central Antheneum":
    "I return my psyche to the origin of self!
    Through this plane of space and time!
    The conscious seed of light!"
  • The Alleged Car: Even by metal standards, their old van was a piece of shit and they were more than happy to admit it. Adam even walked one interviewer through all the bizarre and frustrating quirks of it, which included lots of bad sensors that essentially made most of the indicator lights and dials on the dashboard worthless, bad locks that rendered several doors largely unusable, and frustrating air conditioning quirks that seemed to be indicative of larger electrical problems; Digital Tour Bus (who were given an overview of the old van) even told them that it was quite literally the worst tour vehicle that they had ever covered. They got a newer, much better one, however, and their old one presumably met its end in a scrapyard.
  • Apocalypse How: "Mechanical Trees" features a Class 1 that is fast on its way to Class 2; civilization still exists, but the atmosphere is so thoroughly polluted that breathable air has to be created by the titular devices.
  • Ascended Extra: Dylan Potts and Jared Klein were both originally live fill-ins before being asked to join full-time.
  • Audience Participation Song: "Sand Baptism".
  • Badass Beard: Jake
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Jake, apparently.
  • Concept Album: The Conscious Seed of Light, kinda. It's not a true concept album, but it's thematically based around spring and structured in a way that reflects this. Monarchy follows a similar idea, this time being based around summer.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Hierarchy was way more straightforward and less adventurous than the releases that followed and was generally pretty clear-cut Morbid Angel worship.
  • Epic Rocking: "Suntold" (7:23) and "Circles in the Sky" (6:27).
  • Growing the Beard: Adam Biggs credits Erik Rutan for making him a better bassist overall. In the band's earlier days, he just wanted to play the most complex and challenging material that he could come up with on bass and went into the recording sessions for The Conscious Seed of Light with that approach in mind; according to Biggs, Rutan kept pushing him to calm down, let the song breathe, and let the music dictate his approach rather than trying to shoehorn what he felt like playing in. Biggs has long since realized that Rutan's influence rubbed off on him and made him a more mature, nuanced player.
  • Handicapped Badass: Jake Dieffenbach has a progressively-worsening hearing deficit that he was born with that requires him to wear hearing aids (it's also resulted in a noticeable lisp due to how his hearing difficulties affected the way that he learned how to speak as a child), but he has become known as a powerful vocalist with a distinctly intelligible vocal approach.
  • "I Am" Song: "Sand Baptism".
    "I AM THE SUN!
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Averted with Jake, who has a very clear and intelligible vocal style.
  • Lead Bassist: Adam Biggs hits all four categories on the head; he's got a ton of technical ability, he's a relatively frequent vocal contributor, he writes the vast majority of the lyrics and a decent amount of the music as well, and his basslines factor very heavily into the band's established musical style.
  • Metal Scream: Type 1 for Jake, Type 3 for Adam.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Moderate 10.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Jake is something of this; while not overly hippie-ish in appearance, he is heavily into a lot of New Age philosophies, the likes of which tend to shape their lyrics.
  • New Sound Album: Monarchy has less straightforward, more complex arrangements with a much wider variety of tempo and mood shifts. The first half is reasonably similar to The Conscious Seed of Light, but the album becomes its own animal as it nears the second half.
  • Ode to Intoxication: "Place of Serpents", in this case ayahuasca.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: Jake Dieffenbach.
  • Progressive Metal
  • Religion of Evil: "A Fertile Altar", which is about a sex cult; while no names are mentioned, it has been confirmed that it was inspired by multiple high-profile incidents.
  • Signature Style: Lots of odd-timed riffs, atmospheric tremolo riffing, quiet, post-rock-influenced sections, the occasional full-speed blasting portion, and darkly melodic soloing. Best described as an intersection of Morbid Angel, Gojira, Krallice, and Sigur Ros.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: Jake's surprisingly clear and intelligible mid-ranged roar stands in stark contrast to his heavily lisped speaking voice.
  • Soprano and Gravel: Sorta. Jake has a mid-ranged roar that is somewhere between Steve Tucker and Piotr Wiwczarek, while Adam has a much higher rasp.
  • Start My Own: Jon Kunz started the death/doom metal act Outer Heaven sometime in 2013 and later wound up quitting Rivers of Nihil to focus on it.
  • Technical Death Metal
  • True Companions: With Kamikabe.