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Album review: “Evergreen” shows After the Burial’s sound does not fade with time

After the Burial released its sixth full length album, “Evergreen,” on April 20. Built upon the backs of a dual eight-string guitar barrage, the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based band has carved their place in the pantheon of progressive metalcore, and their newest album, “Evergreen,” once again proves they have no intention of slowing down.

“Evergreen” sees the band less experimental than past outings, having found the sound they feel best encapsulates the After the Burial feeling. Palm muted, chugging riffs, multiple different time signatures per song, technically intricate guitar work and all the elements that are now synonymous with progressive metalcore are present, and they feel even more polished than ever.

Trent Hafdahl, the only remaining founding member, has taken over both rhythm and lead guitar duties and he shows his prowess on every track. Whether it’s the layered riffs that flow under the choruses, or the blistering guitar solos that are nestled in almost every song, the technical skill on display throughout the album cannot be overstated. Building upon the tone set by their previous album, Dig Deep, this record shows the bands refusal to stay static.

There is a sense of growth in the album that is rare from a band that has been releasing music for over a decade and a half now. The lead single and album opener, Behold the Crown, feels instantly recognizable, no matter if you’re just discovering the band or you’ve followed them since 2004. It starts the album with a foreboding single guitar played over an ambient soundscape, then quickly jumps into the down-tuned riffs that set the tone for the album. The syncopated pinch harmonics sound like what I imagine laser beams in a 1950s alien movie sounded like, and it adds an extraterrestrial vibe to the song that otherwise could have been a straight forward metalcore song.

The versatility of the band is on full display in this album.

One of the heavier songs on the record, “In Flux” stops abruptly and ends with a guitar echoing over an orchestral background. “Respire” is a more melodic, somewhat up-beat song, that feels like something you could play to introduce people to the band. Directly after, you’re thrown into the dirge that is “Quicksand” which sees the band dip somewhat towards black metal. The song’s lyrics deal with how inescapable depression can feel, and the song feels like a slow constriction. Vocalist Anthony Notarmaso finds new depths throughout the song, reaching deeper than anywhere else in the album, adding yet another ominous level to the song.

This string of three tracks could all be on separate albums, by separate bands, and to see them all in one place shows how flexible the band can be. Evergreen is the most appropriate title for the band’s sixth album, because it proves they are still just as good as when they started, and they will not be going anywhere anytime soon.

Rating: 4.7/5

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