Their sixth studio album in 13 years, “Evergreen” marks the band’s first release with the bassist Adrian Oropeza. He replaced original bassist Lerichard “Lee” Foral in 2016 and was named the bands full time bassist having toured with After The Burial for 12 months of the “Dig Deep” album cycle. A progressive metalcore band from Minneapolis, Minnesota who have endured the departure and death of founding rhythm guitarist Justin Lowe and whose sole remaining founding member and guitarist Trent Hafdahl is held in very high regard. The remainder of the band have been in place since 2008 and consist of vocalist Anthony Notarmaso and drummer Dan Carle.
A classic Metal introduction of a Melloncholic riff is smashed into a million pieces by a a juddering string bend heavy DJentist riff that would make Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society fame turn is head as “Behold The Crown” kicks in full throttle. The first single came complete with a Game of Thrones style leaning video and is a stunner of a track to set the tone for not only the album but the bands sound in 2019. Out of the gate like a greyhound let off its leash “Exit, Exist” thunders in with some seriously impressive kit work from Dan Clarke. The drum sound is almost metronomically hypnotising in its machine like splendor and the song has a couple of really impressive Meshuggah esq moments of thunderous DJent guitar work to accompany that. Harnessing their inner August Burns Red “11/26” brings back that Metalcore riffage is some glorious lead work delivered at breakneck pace. Trent Hafdahl has done a fantastic job with the guitar work here and there are distinctly a pair of guitars in the mix. An atmospheric break for a melodic moment before everything kicks back in acts as a fine pallette cleanser and the solo absolutely rips in classical style. It’s at stark contrast to the opening pair of tunes with much more flare on show but together the opening trio are a phenomenal showcase of talent.
Kicking back to that DJent heavy core sound “In Flux” brings the heat with some impressive tapping work replacing the lead work of the earlier material in head nodding style. Lyrically containing the album title “Step back from the Evergreen, rest my bones”, this cut is a far more personal one and it shows with extra feeling in the vicious unclean vocal delivery from Notarmaso. Some synth work on a Metal album in the current era is the standard and that element is brought in during a restful passage of reflective inspiration and calm during a 90 seconds or so instrumental after the main track finishes. It’s something that we’ve been calling out for as other bands would have put it out as a separate tune, but After The Burial don’t feel that need. “Respire” takes parts that Veil of Maya would be proud of and blend Metalcore with DJent seamlessly with Progressive know how and skill. It maybe a more melodic tune but it still has all of the pace and energy of the heavier cuts and while those uncleans are smoother and clearer, they are by no means clean. Extending the intro music with some impressive dark and eerie atmospheric intrumentation “Quicksand” had more of a Tech-Metal groove to it with Notarmaso reaching deeper into his vocal register for some Deathcore territory touching uncleans that are previously unheard on the album. It’s slow crawl delivered at pace is an oxymoron of sorts that doesn’t cut the energy or flow of the album and instead gives the mid-section fresh bite.
There may have been some who had forgotten just how good the Progressive DJent sound can be when it’s done with style and panache. Those who had fallen in love with the style off the back of the first pair of Periphery albums for example should find themselves refreshed by this album. “The Great Repeat” elevates the mood with some impressive groove rhythms and technical lead work of the progressive variety delivered with an uplifting energy. “To Challenge Existence” brings a stuccato scratch riff chug opening and is something very much something from the old school Periphery playbook, but After The Burial make it their own with some impressive bridging riffs and the surprise use of blast beats. Starting out with a modern Thrash riff and another step up in the kit work “A Pulse Exchanged” has a freer feel to it than some of the other material on “Evergreen”. The footwork on the kit is nothing short of incredible and the breakdowns begin to seriously pile up before things reach their conclusions. The return of the blast beat and a Death Metal inspired bridge to close the album out is immense and may find you doing a double take – such is the unexpected swing in sound [9/10]
“Behold The Crown”
“The Great Repeat”
“To Challenge Existence”
“A Pulse Exchanged”
“Evergreen” by After The Burial is out now via Sumerian Records and available via iTunes