Released: 2013, Self-released
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
As self-released albums go, the debut from Greek newcomers AfterBlood is quite an impressive affair with a surprising pedigree for a band of their relative obscurity. Boasting sterling production by ex-Despair/Grip Inc. guitarist Waldemar Sorychta - whose studio resumé includes work with Lacuna Coil, Samael, Sentenced, Borknagar, Moonspell, Tiamat, etc. - drums by Sodom's Markus “Makka” Freiwald (not to mention a guest vocal appearance by band frontman Tom Angelripper) and provocative packaging and artwork by frontwoman Hel Pyre, Of Unsound Minds has a big-time look, feel and sound.
These guys - and gal - might not remain obscure for long. Of Unsound Minds is a pretty strong outing in its own right that uses the studio guidance and veteran mentorship to build on its strengths and pack a bigger wallop instead of merely serving as a crutch. AfterBlood's groove-laden death metal is punchy and at times quite fearsome, with guitarist Cyan's thudding hooks providing a sturdy foundation of Pyre's malevolent growl, which echoes Arch Enemy's Angela Gossow, but without a lot of the screaming and caterwauling.
Pyre's vocals are measured and methodical, which actually makes them more imposing, and they cut their way through the dense, concussive mix of “Before Time Runs Out,” “Helheim” or “Calling The Dead” - which boasts a nifty solo from Sorychta - with ease despite an almost at times breathy delivery. There's nothing pretty going on here. No clean passages or operatic turns. Pyre remains in attack mode throughout and her bandmates seem only to happy to ride along.
The pace on Unsound Minds rarely accelerates beyond a brisk mid-tempo jog. Indeed, the band seems a bit tentative in regard to pacing, which may have something to do with recording with a session drummer (no disrespect to Freiwald or his obvious chops) instead of a full-time band member who was there when the songs came to life.
Nevertheless, the material here - including a fine bonus cover of Kreator's “Phobia” - is as inherently brutal as anything with twice the velocity. The economical riffing crunches along mightily, with Sorychta smartly leaving an abrasive edge intact, and the underlying rhythms roil with intensity - even if it feels like the band might be holding a little something back.
AfterBlood now have a drummer of their own, as well as a second guitar player, and it will be interesting to hear how that impacts their next album, especially after they've got a bunch of gigs under their belts. Until then, they've got a solid and savage debut they should be more than proud of - and one that deserves to gain them a much wider audience.