Album Review: After The Burial – “Wolves Within”.


After The Burial released their fourth full length album entitled “Wolves Within” on December 17th, 2013.

Wolves Within is the fourth full-length studio album by the Minnesota-based quintet, After the Burial. After the Burial blend the melodic lead work and breakdowns of metalcore with the groovy drum patterns and riffs present in djent. While on paper, that amalgamation may seem completely uninteresting, After the Burial manage to keep a strong hold on their sound in a somewhat contradictory manner. By that I mean, the sound is unique, but not entirely original as they tend to compile aspects of progressive metal juggernauts such as Between the Buried and Me and Meshuggah, while maintaining the signature metalcore style not unlike bands such as Killswitch Engage or As I Lay Dying. Where that becomes the issue with Wolves Within is that those bands don’t necessarily influence the record, they more or less ARE the record due to After the Burial not bringing anything new to the table or establishing themselves as an identity aside from those bands

One of the things about this album that realy grabs the listener is the sheer ferocity of some of the tracks. The blistering intensity on tracks such as Anti-Pattern, Of Fearful Men and Virga really showcase the more fun aspects of this album as After the Burial slap listeners in the face with not only fantastic lead guitar-work but also very groovy and precise rhythm work as well. Anti-Pattern is a fantastic example of great drum-work with its many fills and interesting patterns. Anti-Pattern and Virga both have very intense and soul-crushing breakdowns whereas Of Fearful Men has a fantastic solo that leaves the listener hungry for more. Parise and Pennyweight showcase the band’s ability to write very catchy and groovy songs with more of an emphasis on the rhythm-work while retaining the fantastic lead-work. The chorus on Pennyweight definitely has to be the most memorable on the album, as it is most certainly the catchiest, but although that is a great strength in the song, its flaws really represent the issues in this album as a whole.

At the beginning of the song, there is a rather uninteresting and uninspired riff that sets the song off on a very sour note, not to mention the tone itself on the riff is abysmal and well… It sounds very ugly. After that, the song goes into full throttle, picks itself up and begins to be one of the best tracks on the album, only to be destroyed by the band revisiting that riff at the very tail-end. This is a perfect example of arbitrary moments on the album that are scattered here and there. The very first can be heard in Of Fearful Men, where the band halts the momentum (luckily very briefly) and aggression of the sound and trades it with an uninteresting classical guitar passage that would have done the song a favor by not being there at all. This shows that the band needs to work on their transitions if they are striving for a more progressive sound, though it also presents itself as something the band should not include in their music at all. Another issue with the album is that it’s already incredibly short, being only 9 tracks that rarely exceed the five-minute mark, and two of the tracks on the album are completely unnessecary as wholes for being merely filler. Disconnect and Nine Summers are not only two of the longest tracks on the album, but they are definitely the most boring and halt the momentum of the three tracks preceding them, offering nothing new to the album in itself. These tracks are succeeded by Virga, and despite Virga being one of the most fun songs on the album, it’s hard to enjoy it after the awkward inclusion of two lackluster tracks giving way to it.

Neo-Seoul and A Wolf Amongst Ravens offer a new flavor to the album by including layers of synth over some very groove-soaked syncopated riffs. These tracks, while being nothing incredibly special, help to break away from the monotony of the album. Lastly, the part that can either make or break this album for somebody, is that the vocals range from “meh” to abysmal. Vocalist Anthony Notarmaso showcases some very decent low harsh vocals, but can really make the listener cringe by very annoying pitchy yelling heard towards the beginning of Virga, and the awkward fast-paced high screaming in A Wolf Amongst Ravens

Overall, Wolves Within presents itself as an EP’s worth of decent material that is fun for a few rounds but becomes very monotonous and is ultimately forgettable as After the Burial do little to let their own sound shine through, in favor of copying the sound of other bands. On a positive note, this album definitely does feel like it could be a stepping stone towards them finding their own sound and hopefully great things will come of that as this album had the potential to be a worthwhile metalcore record, yet lost itself as it went off on tangents that the band should consider not exploring.

Review by Arden Collier.

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