Released: 2017, Unique Leader Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Part of upstate New York’s second wave of death metal, Long Island’s Afterbirth was born in the shadows of names like Internal Bleeding and Suffocation. Their earliest material embraced the primitive, gore soaked musical decimations that the scene has since become synonymous with, but moments on the PSYCHOPATHIC EMBRYOTOMY demo hinted that the band was more technically capable than songs like “Obliteration of Human Tissue” would lead one to believe. None of it mattered though, as lineup challenges and interpersonal drama caused the band to call it quits in ’95. But we all know that the dead don’t stay dead forever…
Almost a quarter century since their impure conception, 3/4 of the original lineup have managed to put the past behind them, reboot Afterbirth for a new generation and finally release a proper debut full length, THE TIME TRAVELER’S DILEMMA. Recruiting Artificial Brain vocalist Will Smith to replace original throat Matt Duncan and having the gift of two decades to become proficient with their instruments, THE TIME TRAVELER’S DILEMMA fully realizes Afterbirth’s technical aspirations while remaining fundamentally heavy as ever.
Listening to THE TIME TRAVELER’S DILEMMA, I found myself drawing comparisons to Gorguts’ musical evolution from THE EROSION OF SANITY to OBSCURA. The Voivod-ian compositions and sci-fi permeations that thread the 11 new songs together make for a more enjoyable and engaging listen. Make no mistake – just as the Unique Leader stamp of approval on the album implies, this is teeth to toes a brutal death metal record, but the sonic dexterity across the likes of “Maggots in Her Smile” and “Multiverse Dementia” do wonders to help Afterbirth establish their own musical identity. Balancing out his musical counterparts, Smith does his part to “keep it true,” bellowing some of the most guttural snarls and belches you’ll hear this side of a Pathology record. Granted, there are times where easing up a bit or just shaking up his vocal dynamic might better compliment the tunes, but those moments are few and far between.
THE TIME TRAVELER’S DILEMMA proves that sometimes perseverance pays off. While they may be 20 years late to the party, the time they've taken to grow as performers and songwriters is the equivalent of eventually showing up to the party, but with a case of beer in tow – everyone suddenly forgets about the time, they’re just glad you’re there.