Review Summary: Four dimensional sound maze
After the rather troubled and prolonged labor that surrounded the birth of The Time Traveler's Dilemma
, one would expect its follower to take a while to shape. Like another twenty five years or so, if you know what I mean. However, this time, Long Island's Afterbirth didn't take another quarter of a century to make things happen, launching Four Dimensional Flesh
just three years after its debut. It's kind of a record for these guys. For those unfamiliar with the story, Afterbirth started in 1993, prematurely breaking two demo tapes later in 1995, being part of the obscure roster of bands that helped shape brutal death metal. Basically, a story of failure like so many others, no big deal. But it seems the metal gods had other plans, and against all odds, two decades later, with an updated line-up, the band finally managed to release their full-length debut. Who would have guessed, right?
In The Time Traveler's Dilemma
, the band evolved their early raw brutal death metal style into a more comprehensive, but still lethal, signature. The shift from gore themes to science fiction concepts and a taste for more progressive textures are the most evident reflections of Afterbirth's stylistic evolution. In this sense, it is safe to say that Four Dimensional Flesh
is the logical sequel to its predecessor, further deepening its progressive and atmospheric approach. All songs embrace a transverse atmosphere, as segments of a single organism. It's clear Colin Marston's engineering (Artificial Brain, Gorguts) was instrumental to this remarkable cohesion, driving the band to another sound level. Given this transversal coherence, it's particularly hard to highlight any song since they all orbit a similar aesthetic, however tracks such as 'Beheading the Buddha', 'Spiritually Transmitted Disease', 'Never Ending Teeth', 'Rooms to Nowhere' or the contagious 'Black Hole Kaleidoscope' are certainly among the best moments this band has ever recorded. Will Smith's massive delivery, which is currently one of the best throats in extreme metal, combined with the cohesive rhythmic section, build a brutal retro-futuristic architecture where all paths seem to lead to the same place, as if we were inside a sound maze. The drumming is particularly impressive, always working to the benefit of the song, just like the rhythm guitar that never distances itself much from the other instruments, as if a strong gravitational force pulled it towards the other pieces of the machine. The four instrumentals should also be mentioned, as they enhance the album's atmosphere, serving not only as bridges between songs but also as hinge points, helping us to go through the album smoothly. Of these four moments, I would like to highlight 'Girl in Landscape', which briefly reminds me of Deftones' Change, acting as a perfect interlude to 'Everything in Its Path'.
Four Dimensional Flesh
is the next logical step for Afterbirth. It takes the previous formula and disperses it even further, adding more atmosphere, sophistication and artistic cohesion. If we look at the Escheresque artwork, we come across a vintage astronaut looking into the future. I like to believe that the music within this fourth dimension is represented by the labyrinthine stairs, and that the character personifies the band, who despite the troubled path, is now strong and confident, looking ahead. And considering the troubled times we are all going through, this fictional character is an inspiration to us all.