Review Summary: After The Burial correct their previous deficiencies to come out with a focused deathcore re release.
Deathcore has endured a troubled existence since its early origins following the start of the new millenium. Ridiculed by the metal elitists and it’s following are hardly regarded as the most knowledgeable music fans. Deathcore began as a genre with limited appeal, however following the universal success of modern generation metalcore, deathcore’s rise to the mainstream has been fast as early releases from The Black Dahlia Murder and All Shall Perish's "The Price Of Existence" produced a style of death metal which was heavy, yet accessible, attracting a new fanbase. Swedish death metal riffing popularised by bands such as Darkest Hour became a trademark commonly adopted by the new generation of young pretenders. With the vast majority of modern releases conforming to a tried and trusted formula, the genre's reputation has struggled to establish itself as anything other than throw away.
After a sustained period of stagnation, with All Shall Perish and some of the other founding fathers distancing themselves from the genre, its short lived existence looked to be coming to an unceremonious end. However, 2007 saw the release of Born of Osiris' "A New Reign". The richly talented youngsters pioneered a shift towards a more technical age for deathcore. They introduced a neo-progressive brand of the genre which borrowed much of its influences from Scandinavian progressive metallers Meshuggah. After The Burial among others followed suit.
After The Burial released the original version of Rareform early in 2008 as interest in the new direction began to heighten. People’s opinion was divided, there were those who were taken by the excellent instrumentation displayed throughout and there were those who heard the ripped off breakdowns and mimicking the use of complex time signatures which most see as the defining characteristic of Meshuggah’s music.
There was one fundamental problem with the orginal release of “Rareform”, the record production was dreadful. The guitars were murky and layered poorly behind the drums which were completely overpowering; the click of the kick drum somehow impersonated that of a light switch and the overall sound was one that sounded so mechanical it seemed as if it been programmed on Garageband. The band then decided to replace their under performing vocalist with someone a bit more contemporary but far more competent than his predecessor.
The production of the re-release is altogether more clinical, all components sound razor sharp. The guitar work of Justin Lowe and Trent Hafdahl is almost overwhelming with their constant use of sweeps. Polyrhythms are sprinkled throughout as Lowe and Hafdahl go up and down the scales at an almost immeasurable rate. The rhythmic onslaught is however broken up by a diversity of lush dual guitar melodies, the introduction to track "Aspirations" is testament to the prodigious talent of the guitarists. Opening with a series of technical rock style riffs they transition into a stop, start chugga chug rhythm, shifting from high pitch onto low pitch strings almost effortlessly.
Drummer Dan Carle has a machine like efficiency in maintaining what are almost metronomic rhythms. The drums now have a refreshing ‘real’ sound which translates to an altogether less flat listening experience. The cymbal production is excellent and are now largely audible, this being another problem with the original version. For example check the end to “Drifts” when there are a number of time changes inside a minute and Carle interchanges nicely between his crash and china cymbals. In contrast to the excellence and prominence of the drums and guitars, the bass may as well not be present because the guitars have been layered so heavily it is almost impossible to make it out. Vocally, "Rareform" is fairly strong. New vocalist Anthony Notarmaso interchanges between the most common middle range hardcore shout and occasionally ranges to high pitch screams and low pitch growls. Although nothing remarkable Notarmaso is a big improvement on the previous vocalist who hampered the previous release.
Criticisms of the original album are generally minimised with the much improved production but for those critical of the last album, they will still argue that there are still far too many breakdowns acting as filler to break up the otherwise predominant sweepfest. Transitions can be annoyingly choppy and can often come across as a little uninspired. However this doesn’t quite take the shine off what is one of the few quality deathcore releases.