Album Review

Afterbirth- In But Not Of

Brutal/Progressive Death Metal outfit Afterbirth is releasing their third full length album “In But Not Of” on October 20th. The first two albums were on Unique Leader Records, but this one will be released on Willowtip Records. They signed there in 2021 and this opus will be their first on their new record label. Boy, it’s something let me tell you. Here’s the band history in a few sentences: They started out in the earlier 90’s did a few demos then disbanded after a few years as young teens. There were disagreements and it got heated, so taking a while off to grow up (as musicians too) benefited them. A few decades later, they rebanded and recorded their debut album “Time Traveler’s Dilemma” which released in 2017 (Afterbirth came back to music in 2013). I’m sure most death metal folks know of Afterbirth and their history, but I figured I’d do a quick rundown.

The previous effort was a bit out there musically “Four Dimensional Flesh” that released in 2020. They got a bit more progressive and ambient, broadening their sound. It was a good foundation to change up their sound a bit, all while staying true to their brutal death metal roots. Their demos changed the landscape of the genre in the early 90’s and helped further it to say the least. In 2023, they are doing that in quite a wild way. If you’re a purist, you might hate this so you may want to stop reading here. But alas, here’s my two cents on this amazing release.

They got weirder, for sure. Cody has some gnarly guitar solos, more progressive sections and using more clean tones on guitar. The bulk of the sound is brutal death metal, don’t go all haywire on me now. There are sections like this, even a little jazzy and psychedelic may I curiously add. Colin Marston worked with the band mixing and mastering “In But Not Of” and even added some keys to some sections in the songs. If combining all these genres is up your ally, you’ll love this release so much. There’s even a few guest vocalists on their upcoming album by Cory Peterson (Thaetas) and John Collett (Nightmarer).

Afterbirth comments: “We are proud to be working with Willowtip Records and their enthusiasm for this album has inspired us to continue pushing the trajectories of the Afterbirth sound to the most far-fetched conclusions possible, while always staying true to our original approach and ethos from when the band was first started all those many years ago. There is not just one tangible concept on this album, rather, there are a myriad of interconnected musical themes and lyrical narratives to confuse, confound and delight the listener. In But Not Of will surely drag the listener kicking and screaming through quantum leaps into different situations and topics too numerous to mention. Though we may be IN, we are not OF. For fans of chameleons, frogs, clouds of smoke, that which wriggles in the haunted abyss and alternative rock.”

Will’s voice, is like one of the fucking best. It’s Demilich reincarnated with a crazier sound that is Afterbirth. I saw the band last year in Rochester with the legendary Internal Bleeding and this great local band Gutted Alive. 3 said bands were supporting Undeath (Rochester natives) at this show for their new album at the time “…It’s Time To Rise From The Grave”. Their performance was so good and Will as literally at the front of that. His voice will be a huge staple to the genre and the bands he’s in/has been in.

Cody’s guitar work is so good and so fluent each song keeps you guessing. You can tell sometimes where their songwriting goes, but there’s some parts that throw you off unexpectedly (in a good way). You listen to the album a few times more and then it sinks in each listen thereafter. Afterbirth has done it again with such a solid album pushing their sound and talents yet again. It gets melodic sometimes, believe it or not. It’s such a musical treat to musicians when you notice the sound changes and more prevalent styles, as well as to the listeners who also enjoy the band.

The rhythms are so good, thanks to bassist David Case and drummer Keith Harris. There’s some fast parts and also a lot of mid tempo and slow grooves. It’s so, so good. Give this album a chance, it’ll mesmerize you. It’ll open your mind into stuff you don’t think would mesh with brutal death metal but actually does. This is one of the most diverse, innovative and impressive releases of 2023. Don’t let this slip under your radar if you love experimental death metal.

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