Too often the subgenre of tech death trades away the trademark grit and bite of death metal's roots. The brutality and neanderthal values of sheer depravity cascading upon Satanic dildos being shoved up bungholes while children scream in anguish - essentially what is known as the essence of death metal - is swapped out for a more cerebral, calculated effort in showmanship. This has been especially true since the mid-90s. Even during the sacred decade of death's unholy reign was a proper and satisfying blend of technicality and brutality rarely accomplished.
One of the overlooked outliers in the death metal world is Afterlife's lone release, Surreality
, an album that creates an aural smoothie of pain and destruction, yet which also begs its listener to consider the realities of life. Hence the title, Surreality
- what is real" What is life" Why are we here" Who am I" Is the tangible intangible, the intangible tangible" Bizarrely, such musings found here predate Weird Al's pop-philosophy anthem "Everything You Know Is Wrong" by three years, only serving as further proof that the 1990's was a decade of self-discovery and reflection, a spiritual reset of the collective unconscious, a much needed respite from the greed and excess glorified throughout the 1980s and returning to prominence today. It was predicted that the 1990's were the end of the history, that the end of the Cold War was the last major conflict the world would face. Films like Fight Club
, [/i]The Matrix[/i], and American Beauty
explored the theme of the Last Man, a concept first noted by Nietzche a hundred years earlier. Turns out life was not as easy as many had predicted - complacency and comfort again got the best of us all, and the incoming paradigm shift that was 9/11 could not have been predicted by any of these artists and scholars. Fast forward another twenty years and we are right back smack dab in the thick of the rat race - depressed, broke, living in fear and without meaning. Such is the cyclical nature of life. It is as if we will not be allowed into the next level of consciousness until we, as a species, collectively ascend. While scholars can pinpoint the cultural cycling throughout history, it is interesting to note that no such cycle of the mind has been made concerning technical death metal. A small matter to some, but could this disprove hundreds of years of supposed truisms" Afterlife showcase aspects of Atheist's spastic, jazz-infused, chaos creeds, and this is namely channeled through the frenetic bass work. On top of this is still a hearty dosing of in-your-face, balls out, gloomy low end riffage and pummeling drumming, reminiscent of early Obituary, and vocally, Afterlife are undeniably influenced by Cannibal Corpse. This makes for quite a beef stew.