Sound — 8
I was first linked to After The Burial a few years ago. At the time, I was in a very indifferent mood towards all things core, basically hating them for existing no-matter the actual merit of the band. I therefore hated the idea that these core kids were playing 8-string guitars, as I saw it as another gimmick. About 6 months ago, I actually went and listened to After the Burial and all my preconceptions vanished. After the Burial play a technical and almost progressive form of metal, their 8-string guitars actually being used for sonic diversity, not just added chug. One thing is for certain and that's that these guys can riff. Every song on this album contains some absolutely top notch riffs and the breakdowns are simply crushing. The intro to "Berzerker" is a prime example of what this band is all about. Technical shredding, still done tastefully, while retaining heaviness and groove. The odd time signature changes don't even feel forced and the off time Meshuggah-usque groove never feels like it was done simply to show off.
Lyrics — 6
The vocals are probably the weakest part of this band. While they aren't bad, they're too dry in a lot of sections. He has his moments, the ending breakdown to "Berzerker" comes to mind and most of "Aspiration", but overall the vocals sound too claustrophobic and cramped. As much as I'm loath to recommend it, more reverb in the studio would probably help.
Overall Impression — 8
This is a huge step up from After the Burial's previous effort, "Forging a Future Self". The production is tighter, the riffs are stronger and the music itself has benefited from the extra time spent in the industry. After The Burial have really tried to step away from the metalcore mould that is becoming so stale in it's Autumn years and what the future holds for them will be interesting to say the least. The band's music is catchy, yet heavy. Frantic, yet melodic. Chaotic, yet constructed. Tracks like "Cursing Akenaten" and "Aspiration" really show off the band's variety of influences, from Meshuggah-usque chug patterns to melodies and harmonies that would make Muhammed Suimez sit up straight. Definitely a band to keep an eye on.