Riparian (EP) by Riparian

PITTSBURGH DEATH METAL. Ah, it feels as refreshing as blissful bloodshower to write that. Allow me to let it sink in and get weird with you again, please. Pittsburgh. Death. Metal. Awesome, right? Now, why isn’t there more of this? While Pittsburgh does certainly have a beyond alive & well metal underground and music scene in general (punk being particularly strong here, among others); death metal is sparingly scattered like remains and splattered like brains within it… and that’s a shame. Riparian, however, are here to change that. Being no strangers to the local scene, Riparian have sharpened their teeth opening for acts such as Incantation, Dying Fetus and Exhumed, just to namedrop a few. Forming from the corpses of past projects, Riparian quickly made a name for themselves and continue to do so as they utterly dominate their own local gigs and continue to grow (and kill it) as a band. Now having scored the release of their debut EP through a prominent label, Riparian sound just like they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Coming fresh off aforementioned eponymous EP, Riparian continue to loudly and proudly represent Pittsburgh death metal in the most brutal of ways possible, while hopefully paving the way for new death metal bands to come.

Just to be clear, I definitely do not wish to discredit any other Pittsburgh death metal bands AT ALL as they are working hard as actual fuck at the moment; (shameless shout out to my friends in Enfidle, Ritual Mass, Greywalker, Post Mortal Possession, etc..) I just see Riparian getting the most attention. And, in my dead & humble opinion, rightfully so. These dudes work asses off, they are as professional as any death metal band has any right to be, their live shows are tighter than any deranged surgical procedure their music can conjure up, along with their gear and sound often impeccable in maybe less than ideal acoustic environments but most importantly; They. Fucking. Bring it. Riparians live performances have no shortage of high powered metal energy and their music forcefully invades your skull like a jackhammer. I guess that’s all well and good, BUT, does their HIGH ENERGY, tighter than hell death metal chops, undying passion and desire to rock translate well into a mere 5-song EP? Read on to find out…

YES. Yes it does. Hell if I can keep a secret. Especially when it has to do with good death metal and ESPECIALLY when it’s good death metal from my hometown, goddamnit! The EP’s sound is nothing short of professional but don’t-worry-still-quite-gut-wrenching, death metal. Riparian has been released on a killer underground metal label, Grimoire Records, whom are responsible for easily some of the best metal to be supplied to the black masses last year, and the result is… you guessed it: FUCKIN BRUTAL, MAAAAN. Seriously though. The sci-fi rooted bones of this psychotic death metal skeleton rattle in genre-bending glory, encrusted by tectonic plates of sonic riffs, bellowed by volcanic vocal chords, and dancing in the hell-spawning beats of the rhythm section lives Riparian on every decibel of this 25 minute record. With the technicality of alien metal sorcerers but the souls of the old school ghouls; Riparian display a very balanced, fresh as the newly slaughtered, eclectic variety of death-grind for the whole family. That was my futile attempt at figurative language to say that there is something to be desired on Riparian’s debut by every death metal subgenre fanatic. That is, to my estimation, due to the contribution of each member of the bands’ previous experience and unique interests, combined with unnerving skill, and MAYBE some help from the devil; Riparian come together like a grimy and imposing death machine to mass produce their unique brew of extreme metal to the masses.

The opening track and single (video available look that shit up) “The Nuclear Unclear”, for instance, is oozing to the brim with grinding technicality with a menacingly fast tempo (and don’t think I didn’t notice that nasty little bass solo in the introduction.. I did, I see you, and I love you.) that will just leave your brain drawn and quartered. While other tracks such as “Cosmic Undulations” and “Consumed by What Is Unknown” are built upon burial grounds of the classic variety of death metal whilst exhuming that doom-rich atmosphere with only some spicy technical guitar workings showing up to haunt the listener when invoked. The remaining tracks “Event Horizon of Artificial Existence” and “Metrics Distortion” are not only quite the dope song titles but exist solely to shred the matter from your face. Riparian more than prove their grindcore and slam-worthy chops on these unrelenting tracks of sickening speed and technicality.

Guitar virtuoso Lou Snyder & fellow sorcerer of the six strings Dan Martin form (not to be cliche but the term couldn’t be more appropriate) dynamic (as hell) duo that pushes Riparian’s sound to the proverbial next level. Having dual guitarists in the death metal band is never a bad move, but works especially well as their riff chemistry is undeniable. They are absolute riff machines and one can spit out a venomous lick while the other locks down that chunky and painful rhythm. Of course, death metal would be nothing without the signature blast beats of the drums, and Nick Tupi more than has that shit on lock while Brooks on the bass thickening & richening the sound with the bellows of bass (and you can actually clearly hear it in the mix which immediately scores points with me). Of course, the vocal style of Rob Grisly are, well, quite grisly. The vocal range shifts from guttural to higher pitched growls, further adding interesting variety to their sound. While all the tracks employ different extreme metal techniques and call upon unique subgenres for inspiration, they feel very organic and very unique to Riparian, which has to be the most appealing aspect of the band. From things as simple and arguably meaningless as their artwork and logo, but more importantly the vibes of their songs, it becomes quite the daunting task to place Riparian in box or label them as a specific subgenre. Not that they are ones to stay in their boxes or coffins anyway, so I’ll just coin their genre “fucking awesome death metal.” And Pittsburgh needs a whole lot more of that. Cheers, boys. Keep ‘em coming.

Rating: 4.5/5

Gym Rating: 5/5

Check out their music, gig dates, and more at the links below.. dig it!!!