I hate the term djent. It is a gross overgeneralization that creates a bias against plenty of strong musicians who just happen to favor the low end and focus on groove at times. While there are plenty of lazy, no-talent clowns falling into this category, I argue that After the Burial is one of the diamonds in the rough. Yes, there are the moments of the typical binary riff, but for every one of those, there are several amazing solos, perfectly executed melodic leads, and otherwise exemplary technical musicianship.
Take, for example, “Your Troubles Will Cease…” The opening start-stop riff punctuated by the cymbal-heavy 4:4 drumbeat is highly reminiscent of “Strengah” off of Meshuggah’s Nothing. The faster moments are also similar to tracks from Bleed or even Koloss. But they manage to stand out with increased use melody through the reverb-laden high leads.
Alternatively, there are tracks like “Pendulum,” “To Carry You Away,” and “Bread Crumbs…” that abandon the format altogether. The guitar often favors echoey cleans or very-melodeath inspired riffs that never dull on me. Yes, there is the occasional breakdown, but they are relatively brief and not just simple palm-muted crunch-fests. Furthermore, the contrast of the relatively a-melodic outro of “Bread Crumbs…” with the stunning harmonies opening “To Carry You Away” allows this favorite riff to stand out all the stronger. Plenty of catchy vocals here as well. The cleans are right out of early Killswitch Engage. While the lyrics are nothing special, the delivery fits the music well.
But my favorite track is probably “Encased in Ice.” While the “motherfucker, c’mon!” opener is corny as hell, I love this riff. It has a great balance of groove, melody, and use of harmonics that gets my head bobbing every time. Again, plenty of bendy, low-end here; but I think it is balanced out by the weird jazz-inspired solo and difficult time-signatures at play.
A few other closing notes. The production here is pretty strong. It’s polished, but not condensed. The drums come through at a nice level even if they don’t particularly wow me. The vocals have a nice rhythm, though the delivery is certainly nothing new. Overall this has a much more pleasing tone than the super-condensed Wolfs Within, but lacks some of the creativity of Rareform (the reissue). If you are into technical metal, mathcore, or metalcore; I definitely recommend this. It’s not earth-shattering or required listening, but it is heaps better than most of the mediocre non-extreme genres of metal. At 35 minutes you can’t really go wrong.