Released: 2013, Sumerian Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Minneapolis quintet After The Burial throw a little bit of everything into the pot with their fourth album - and second release of 2013, following last spring's This Life Is All We Have EP. The concussive bottom end, rigid riffs and stutter-step rhythms echo djent; the flashy solos and guitar forays are more prog-metal; the slash-and-burn tempos, drum fusillades and overall ferocity are death metal; and frontman Anthony Notarmaso's bulldog delivery, and the band's occasional penchant for breakdowns, as on “Virga,” border on metalcore.
So there's lots to digest over Wolves Within's surprisingly tidy 40 minutes. But the band manage to fuse these various influences and styles together with focus and drive, allowing everything to work in concert instead of against themselves. There's a well-honed flow and purpose to it all, the band certainly aren't ones to throw whatever they can out there just to see what sticks - and end up with a disjointed mish-mash.
What certainly helps in harnessing the disparate elements is that over the full course of Wolves Within the band retain a gut-punch heaviness that will stagger even the sturdiest disposition. The brown-sound riffs that lead off the opening track “Anti-Pattern” set a tone that After The Burial follow with military precision throughout. Album closer “A Wolf Amongst Ravens” delivers much the same smothering wall of guitar, made all the more so as they are played against a delicate sheen of synthesizer.
The metalcorey moments, as on the aforementioned “Virga” or “Of Fearful Men,” sound a bit pedestrian in a Killswitch Engage sort of way, but they are thankfully fleeting. And when the band ease off the breakdowns and pick up the tempo, as on “Pennyweight” or the almost black metally “Disconnect,” they are much more effective and inspired, even with the rote gang-shout choruses, and will crush you flat.