When Rivers of Nihil released their debut full length in 2013, it took many by surprise. With very strong touring in support of it, many more were turned on to the band. Those following from their demos, it was a culmination of what we knew the band could do. It was ferocious, unrelenting, and all together beautiful at the same time.

During the touring cycle, they not only lost their drummer, but shortly after, a guitarist quit. To lose two founding members in a short period of time could be crippling for most bands, especially younger bands. Apparently, Rivers doesn't believe that. They quickly found a drummer from Queens, NY band Anesthetized. He quickly learned their set and did a phenomenal job. When they lost their guitarist, he was quickly replaced by the guitarist of the same band. Both learned the sets quickly and were great. However, replacing a member is one thing, but they had big shoes to fill and I was admittedly a touch apprehensive on how these changes would affect the new album.

I'm more than pleased to say that apprehension was of a goddamn fool's mind. With repeated listens, it's easy to say that even though this is only their 2nd full length, we're looking at a band that is mature beyond their years. I'd say that perhaps their sound is fully realized, but I doubt a band like this is going to ever stop expanding.

In short, Monarchy is a beast. A wonderful, dark, brooding, heavy, and completely emotional beast. The power and mood on this release is demanding. They set the bar high for themselves on Conscious Seed of Light; with Monarchy, they set the bar even higher. An amazing feet in and of itself.

Continuing with the seasons theme started with Spring on the debut, Monarchy brings us to the suffocating heat of Summer and it brought blazing riffs galore with it. Majority of the music writing was manned by lead guitarist Brody. Bearing a full load of writing and recording all guitar and bass in his own studio, he really came to shine. Having the luxury of recording in home paid off big as the band had the time to perfect everything. It really shows in the songwriting and the performances of all stringed instruments. The songs are incredibly strong and even more coherent than the prior outings.

There is an overall booming confidence present from everyone. Brody's solos have really stepped it up. They're beautiful and shredding at times. Bassist Biggs has many an awe inspiring passage. Both have lines that invoke memories of classic prog rock masters and death metal titans. New guitarist Jon came ready as well and wrote the song Reign of Dreams for the album. It completely rips and is a bright sign of bigger things to come between he and Brody for the next release. Drummer Alan more than fills the empty drum throne. He's a monster behind the kit. Very technical, but never jerking off to showboat. That can be said for every person on Monarchy. The technical proficiency is ever present, but not once is it off putting. It's incredibly tasteful and something others should look to.

I'd say one of the biggest advances on the release is the use of atmosphere and post rock influences. Hearing passages of acoustic guitar was a welcome addition. As the album goes on, the back half really opens up to more progressive and atmospheric songs. Don't get me wrong, it's definitely heavy as hell, but there's a calming beauty to much of it after the opening tracks rip you apart.

With as much as I listened to Conscious Seed of Light, I was worried I may turn into one of those "I like the older stuff more" people. I'm thankful to say that Monarchy more than stands on its own feet that demands your attention, the hooks sink into you and don't let go. It's an incredible chapter to this band and an advancement that keeps you wanting more and curious as to what they could possibly bring us next. Until that chapter inevitably comes, I'll be enjoying these nice summer tunes.

PS, Seagrave knocked it out of the park again with the album art.