After 2016’s Dig Deep, After The Burial had established themselves as one of extreme metal’s up-and-comers. Led by stand-out single 'Lost In The Static' and earning the band tour support slots alongside the likes of Thy Art Is Murder, the band were able to display their prowess through their burgeoning blueprint; pummelling riffs juxtaposed with blistering, sharp and precise lead passages.With new album Evergreen, not only have After The Burial taken a leap, they have released an album of astonishing power, structure and instrumentation.
Opening track 'Behold The Crown' begins a jaw-dropping opening quintet of tracks on Evergreen. A sinister clean passage fades into the abyss before a bouncy, metallic pinch-harmonic-heavy opening salvo acts as a swift strike to the throat, combining anvil guitar and percussion with the soaring guitar lines that have become a staple of ATB’s rollicking, technical blueprint.
The chaos continues with sophomore song 'Exit, Exist'; a relentless joyride with the rhythm section manning the steering wheel; drummer Dan Carle offers a hammering foundation of machine-gun kick-pedal and tribal snare hits alongside the twisting timing and tempo changes that make this album such an unpredictable and compelling listen. The song also features the album’s most crushing breakdown; a brutal, lurching section that leaves a feeling comparable to exiting a heavyweight boxing match.
It's within the earth shattering walls of 11:26 where Evergreen meets its peak though. With its opening sitting comfortably as the most beautiful and ethereal section ATB have ever penned. The track descends into a breakneck thrash sequence, before wave-after-wave of relentless tech-core marries with moments of either instrumental beauty, or weighty beat-downs. It is the archetypal ‘instant classic’ from a band that should soon be heralded for its construction.
Ignoring the obvious gut-displacing lows and the fret-frying guitar work, the variety of the band is a clear strength; the group seamlessly rotate from Periphery-esque prog-metal to Testament style thrash mixed with a real ear for melody and artistry. But with that said - there's every chance you're here for the brutality - and you'll certainly be accommodated in that area too. No-one does breakdowns quite like After The Burial, choosing to turn what is commonly the most predictable staple of any metal band’s repertoire into another opportunity to test the parameters of tempo and riff, rather than following the tried and true path of monotonous pounding.
You shouldn't forget that even when the band aren't running at their patented full throttle style, they still never falter. The intensity takes a step backward with 'Quicksand', a musical theme reminiscent of classic horror movies partnered with some near-doom passages leading into 'The Great Repeat', which as a follow-up song is like rescuing a man from drowning before tossing him into a pit of fire – a rapid pace punctuated with high octave lead lines that accent, accentuate and at times provide a gripping sonic dichotomy when featured with the guttural screams and chords.
'To Challenge Existence' follows with a typically djent beginning before flying into the high/low tone combination that has become an ATB staple. It is the weakest song on the album and feels somewhat like the band are taking their foot off the pedal, however, this theory is completely disproved when Evergreen's concluding number, 'A Pulse Exchanged' rears its head.
The finisher immediately resumes order by diverting to the percussive tirade that has become the album’s bread and butter. It sits as a blend of all ATB’s heaviest and most technical tendencies: burnout thrash, a tornado of tempo and riff adjustments before a breakdown that is reassuringly beautiful in its simplicity, a fitting full-stop on what is a triumph of tribal technicality. A crescendo of lasered guitar provides a final statement of ‘Burial’s ability and intensity and caps off a surging success for the American band.
Evergreen is a huge achievement; a seething cauldron of pace, power, real texture and weight, giving soul and substance to the often superficial tech-metal genre and giving 2019 another rising star.