Review Summary: Afghanistan's finest continue their development
It’s been a busy time for virtual post-metal group Afreet. Born out of the ashes of Afghan group District Unknown with lead songwriter Sully Omar seeking to tell a story with his music (in a similar fashion to Coheed & Cambria), he and Yousef Shah dropped their debut EP last year, which I reviewed for RockSins. This March, they released a second effort which continues to set the fictional world they've created, so I figured I’d take a look at how Until the End of Time progresses their sound.
There is a very 90s feel about opening track “A Fickle Sun”. The guitars seem reminiscent of the sort of gothic guitar effects used by groups like SepticFlesh during that era, with eery spoken word vocals re-introducing us to the world Afreet have built. When things finally get going, huge, doomy riffs take centre stage with a rich, thick guitar tone and wall-of-sound production filling every space of sound. It feels as though clean vocals have taken a lot more precedence on this release compared to last, with the early tracks not really letting Shah loose with his primal roars as much. The new approach to the vocals does add a bit of variety, though, with the back and forth allowing calmer, progressive rock influenced moments (particularly at the beginning of tracks, like “Hall of Mirrors” and “Home”) to seep through compared to the assault of dirge and doom that Afreet do best.
It’s worth noting that the tracks on Until the End of Time feel a lot more streamlined than on the EP's predecessor, with an average track length of around 5 minutes being considerably less than their last outing. With that said, 5 minutes is still plenty of time for a song and Afreet make every second count, preventing things from getting bogged down and repetitive. The longest (and perhaps heaviest) track on the EP, “I’ll Destroy Your Dreams”, clocks in at 6 and a half minutes and feels like it owes a fair amount to early Opeth, while keeping true to their own style. It is further proof of the duo’s continued growth as musicians, even throwing a guitar solo into the equation for good measure which neither Afreet nor District Unknown has particularly utilised before. It feels like they’ve settled into their sound now and only need to a little more refining to really hit the sweet spot.
And that’s where we look at where things might need to improve next time around. Whenever I think of what these guys put out, I’m always reminded of the District Unknown track “64”, which I believe to be the apex of what they did in that group. It perfected the psychedelic post-metal sound they had established and had enough hooks in it to ingrain the track in your head for days afterwards. However, I do feel that this is something that has always lacked with Afreet. The songs are excellent on pure musical merit and the duo’s growth in the past few years is commendable, but they just don’t have that missing factor which keeps the song in your head and gets you humming along 3 days layer. Until the End of Time certainly has more about it than Afreet, but you’re still left struggling to pinpoint any specific moments that have the impact that “64” had. And it’s the knowledge that Omar and Shah are capable of it which leaves a bit of a sour note.
However, hooks aren’t the main USP for post-metal so there shouldn’t be any pressure on Afreet to try and change that. The natural progression they’re on right now is fine as it is, and when their next release rolls around we’ll have a much better idea of what they want to achieve. For that reason, Until the End of Time serves its purpose to great effect, with the scene now set for the next stage of evolution, a full album.