Here in the U.S. of A. we’re about to begin a long holiday weekend that rolls through Independence Day next Tuesday (except for the poor souls who have to work anyway), and what better way to launch all the shenanigans than with a big heaping helping of Afterbirth!
And to be clear, I mean the band Afterbirth — the New York-based death metal maulers whose ranks include members of Helmet, Artificial Brain, and Buckshot Facelift. Their debut album The Time Traveler’s Dilemma will be released by Unique Leader Records on July 28th, and we’re revealing a track from it today named “Drills and Needles“.
Don’t be misled by the fact that this is a debut album. Though this music is fresh Afterbirth, their first discharges occurred long ago.
We are told that Afterbirth first coalesced and congealed on Long Island in the long hot summer of 1993, and they released the Psychopathic Embryotomy studio demo the following year, only to come apart and splatter in different directions after that recording.
Fast forward almost 20 years. In 2012 Afterbirth was reconstituted, and both a 2014 demo and a 2015 EP (Maggots In Her Smile) followed, all of which paved the way (so to speak) to this full-length debut, in which new vocalist Will Smith joins original members Cody Drasser (guitars), Keith Harris (drums), and David Case (bass).
It will probably come as no surprise that after the passage of nearly 20 years, the tastes, skills, perspectives, and experience of the band’s members have changed, along with their preferences in lyrical subject matter. As the band say, “Gore and mutilated fetuses are always great and rich subject matter but we’ve all branched out and discovered other avenues of knowledge and inspiration we wanted to explore within the framework of the band.”
You may think you have a good handle on the rudiments of brutal death metal, and Afterbirth do definitely have the fundamentals down — but it’s clear they didn’t make this album just to practice a formula for a generic metal drug. All sorts of exceedingly interesting things are going on in “Drills and Needles“, an assortment of diabolically clever touches and variations that collectively turn the song into something that’s creepy as hell and almost hypnotic, as well as murderously destructive.
As for the fundamentals, Will Smith’s subterranean gurgles and growls are gruesome enough to loosen the bowels of listeners, while the near-atonal, percussive hammer blows inflicted by the band are heavy and hard enough that they vibrate the spine, just as the cold, frenzied riff swarms signal an inhuman voraciousness, and the bullet-spitting drum eruptions could leave your dwelling walls looking like slices of Swiss cheese.
Yet within the workings of that massive demolition job are strange twists and turns of sound — guitar notes that dart and hum and ring out almost like trumpets; bass tones that bubble and burble; blazing-fast skittering riffs; weird eruptions of feedback like transmissions from space; cascades of grim and gloomy guitar atmospherics. Yes, there are slams in the song that could crack the sky, but other elements also give horrifying glimpses of what’s coming through those cracks into our world.
And this thing is so insidiously addictive that you may find yourself putting it on a loop. I did. And I now feel as if something is very, very wrong with me. So why am I also smiling in demented bliss as I hit play for the nth time (I’ve lost count)? I don’t want to look in the mirror. It may not be my face I see.
Dive into this roiling Afterbirth (track), and if you find your placentophagy as delectable as we do, then don’t stop there but continue right on into “Maggots In Her Smile“, a stream of which we’ve also included below.
The Time Traveler’s Dilemma will be released by Unique Leader on the 28th of July, on CD, digital, and vinyl formats. The album was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Joseph Cincotta at Full Force Studios (Suffocation, Dehumanized, Mortal Decay) and it’s emblazoned with the cover art of Kishor Haulenbeek (Black Harvest).
The vinyl edition was mastered by James Plotkin (OLD, Scorn, Khanate, Khlyst, et al). As an extra bonus, Frank Rini (ex-Internal Bleeding) performs backing vocals on the track, “Timeless Formless.”