After The Burial are one of those bands which you aren't quite sure what type of music they're meant to be. One minute they're playing Melodic Metalcore, the next they're a strange mix between Melodic Death Metal and Technical Metalcore. Although catergorized into the Metalcore genre, After The Burial are still one of the more versatile bands around, producing nothing short of hard-hitting slabs of progressive, melodic and interesting Metal. This is a band which takes the best of standard Metal genres and of the Core genres and blends them together. 'Wolves Within' is the bands fourth studio album (5th if you want to include their E.P) and nine tracks packed with Metal goodness. 'Wolves Within' is probably the most interesting and unique Metalcore album of the year, featuring so many different elements from other forms of Metal and being able to blend it all effectively together.
The nine track affair begins with 'Anti-Pattern'. This song immediately cuts out any nonsense and just gets straight on with it. It has a creepy and daunting build up that kicks into some fine chugs. It's strange to go from creepy, melodic intros into chug-chug riffs but yet After The Burial make it seem like a match made in heaven. There is the perfect balance between heaviness and melody to keep the song interesting and exciting. Although this sets the template up for the album, don't be fooled into expecting the formula being the same throughout every song. Every song has something new to offer, making it a consistent, exciting and often mind-blowing album. The album moves into Technical Metalcore-meets-Melodic Death Metal track 'Of Fearful Men'. Lasting nearly four and a half minutes, this track has the excellent riffs, hints of technicality, the melodies, the progressive side of Metal, the solos and, of course, the chugs.
All of this crammed into a song that isn't even four and a half minutes in length is a huge challenge but the track goes on so flawlessly, creating the perfect balance. It's everything a modern Metal band should be aiming for. The next few tracks, 'Pennyweight', 'Disconnect', 'Nine Summers', 'Virga', 'Neo Seoul' and 'Parise', are all heavy hitters. Songs here range from Sylosis-styled Melo-Prog-Thrash-Death to Metalcore-Power Metal crossovers, creating an epic album that doesn't fail to deliver. Final track, 'A Wolf Amongst Ravens', starts with a sense of hauntingly beautiful atmosphere before going into chugs, under-lined with atmospheric melodies. The rest of the track speaks for itself... In terms of musicianship, this album proves that the band are versatile whilst still remaining faithful to the Metalcore roots wedged deep into their DNA. The bass on the album is intense and always present, helping to beef up the album. It has fast parts, melodies and even some technical parts, keeping the bass-lines interesting. The guitar work is insane, with serious amounts of time being spent to help make the riffs, breakdowns and solos as versatile as possible whilst still remaining within the confines of the Metalcore sub-genre.
They are the what adds the atmosphere, the crunchiness and the melody to the entire album, forcing it's listeners to keep on listening. The drumming is what provides the back bone of the album. Instead of trying to astonish us with blast-beats or three-hundred beats-per-minute double bass pedals, the drumming is planned, fitting perfectly with every track. It helps to provide the constant, often infectious, sense of groove and melody that dominate throughout the album. As for vocals, they seem similar to the vocals of Lamb Of God's Randy Blythe, yet with a bit more added bite to it. The vocal performance is terrific and is something for any vocalist to admire.
After a long year in the music scene, it has been rare that a Metalcore has really grabbed me in ways I never thought were possible. However, with 'Wolves Within', After The Burial not only grabbed me, they took me on a lesson on how to create a quality, versatile Metal album. With the amount of albums released this year, it is astonishing to think how amazing this album is compared to most other recent releases. With an intense sound, progression, technicality and melody dominating on every track and a feeling of brutal, haunting atmosphere, After The Burial have crafted the perfect Metalcore album in recent years, making this a triumph for the band. If you're a fan, you'll love this. However, if you've never listened to them but love Metal, than I recommend you do. Don't let the Metalcore tag fool you, there is so much more to this album than meets the eye. Surprising, mesmerizing, refreshing.