As much as I have attempted to explore it, I cannot say that I have been able to decipher — much less appreciate — the trend of deathrash metal. There have certainly been bands in the style that I have greatly enjoyed, but as a whole, I cannot understand its fixation with speed and soloing over what I perceive to be musicality, not to mention the fact that so many of the bands seem content to mirror the existing sounds of the style. On that note, I see a world of potential when the aggression of thrash is melded with more progressive sensibilities. Voivod pulled it off beautifully, and now Riftwalker — a prog deathrash band from Vancouver — is taking these genres and going somewhere interesting with it. True enough, Riftwalker’s debut album “Green & Black” is not revolutionizing the sounds of the genre by any degree, but the band’s greater depth in their composition makes them one of the best bands on the current scene.
From the album artwork alone, I get the feeling that Riftwalker is taking after more classic progressive outfits. The music generally follows suit with this, although there is certainly a drawn influence from the more straightforward acts like Slayer and Exodus. The music is fast and furious for the most part, relying on riffs that immerse themselves in technical finesse as well as a rawer aggression that I sense often in the style. Balancing this out though is a dynamic, not only from heaviness to softer moments, but also in tempo. Often, the band will go from a blistering foray of furious soloing and likeminded rhythms, and then break down into something more atmospheric and doomy. The fast parts are admittedly fairly generic from an instrumental standpoint, but the fact that these compositions are given more than one-gear speed is enough to make Riftwalker stand apart from most in my books.
Maybe the best thing about Riftwalker are the vocals, performed here by all three members. Leading Riftwalker with higher pitched rasps, the sheer range that the guys are able to take their voices into is astounding.
Riftwalker’s “Green & Black” is a very good debut, taking the best parts of thrash metal and making an album that is both intelligent and a hell of a lot of fun.
“Riftwalker” can be purchased here.