Afterbirth – Four Dimensional Flesh

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Afterbirth – Four Dimensional Flesh
Reviewed: June 2020
Released: 2020, Unique Leader Records
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz

In some what can only be some kind of cosmic joke, Afterbirth released one of the best death metal albums of the year the same week that COVID-19 basically shut the world down, drowning out any news of its release in the process. Which sucks on a number of levels, but mainly because FOUR DIMENSIONAL FLESH is a genre bending take on what brutal death metal can be.

2017’s THE TIME TRAVELER’S DILEMMA found the band reawakening from a lengthy hiatus with a marked departure from the gore and blargh of its past, leaning into more technically complex material with a sci-fi flair. FOUR DIMENSIONAL FLESH picks up where its predecessor left off and finds the band veering head on into asymmetric Voivod-ian riffs, distinct moments of synth accents, and a bevy of major chord progressions that radiate with positive energy. It’s total antithetical to what you’d expect from a band like Afterbirth, but it’s absolutely refreshing to hear this kind of brutality challenged with more left of center musical ideas.

Opening track “Beheading the Buddha” lures you in with a more straightforward, bare knuckled delivery, but you can immediately detect a more (gasp) melodic resonance amidst the barrage of blast beats and galloping speed. “Spiritually Transmitted Disease” follows in step, displaying some Deafheaven-esque moments and transitioning towards the first of several instrumental interludes, “Girl in Landscape”. A peaceful moment of optimistic serenity, these moments act as palate cleansers to reset your auditory senses throughout the album. Progressing forward, tracks like “Everything in Its Path,” “Swallowing Spiders” and the epic “Black Hole Kaleidoscope” are connected by a central nervous system of discordant riff progressions and shifting time signatures that’ll draw you back in for repeated listens. As a collective body of work, the 11 tracks on FOUR DIMENSIONAL FLESH complement each other remarkably well while offering plenty of variability.

The only bone of contention some may find with FOUR DIMENSIONAL FLESH is Will Smith’s ultra guttural vocal delivery. It’s a stark contrast to the progressive musical themes, but personally, I think it works. It’s the anchor that grounds Afterbirth’s roots to its present state, and dude has a sick growl – he’s one of the best out there, so deal with it. We’re just starting to see the first wave of quality death metal albums begin to surface this year, and for my money, it starts right here with Afterbirth.


Track List:
1. Beheading the Buddha
2. Spiritually Transmitted Disease
3. Girl in Landscape
4. Everything in Its Path
5. Never Ending Teeth
6. Minimum Safe Distance
7. Rooms to Nowhere
8. Swallowing Spiders
9. Dreaming Astral Body
10. Black Hole Kaleidoscope
11. Four Dimensional Flesh


Will Smith – Vocals
Cody Drasser – Guitars, Noise
Keith Harris – Drums, Keyboards
David Case – Bass, Noise