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giovedì 21 novembre 2013

Afterbirth - Foeticidal Embryo Harvestation

#FOR FANS OF: Brutal Death
The latest in Pathos Productions series of obscure re-releases put the spotlight on one of New York’s most legendary suppliers of brutal music. Afterbirth were indeed one of the most influential bands within that hallowed scene, and despite a short life span and only two official demo releases, (one being a certified classic) their name is still known amongst purveyors of NYDM, slam death, or just high quality death metal. I had been quite eager to get a hold of this release for some time, and after several delays, it finally arrived to a healthy dose of praise from it’s devotees, who numbered seemingly higher than I expected, given this band’s serious underground credentials. This compilation, titled 'Foeticidal Embryo Harvestation' (that's a mouthful) gathers those two tape releases, along with unreleased live material, and with twelve songs at about 48 minutes, there is certainly no shortage of material. The disc open with said classic release, the band’s 1994 demo, 'Psychopathic Embrotomy', and it is honestly one of the most devastating and prophetic releases you could listen to from this genre. While New York was already known for putting out some of the most punishing bands around, Afterbirth were simply on another level. The songs on display seem to have more in common with what labels like Unique Leader would focus on in the mid-2000’s than what was coming out in the early nineties. The bands approach features the heaviest, grooving slams anybody was playing at this point in time, along with technical stop and start time shifts, brutal blasts, popping slap bass, and the most guttural, gurgled vocals around. Seriously though, this was a few years before the unholy belching of Devourment, and while Internal Bleeding had already been bringing the groove into their sound, they claim to have been influenced by Afterbirth. For how brutal their songs are however, their songs are full of hooks and catchy riffs more memorable than is commonly the case with this kind of music. “Aborted Christ” is a perfect example, with one of their best riffs, a snaky and nearly melodic gallop that erupts perfectly from a churning mosh section. Unfortunately, the rest of the material just isn’t up to the standard that is set by the first four tracks, at least in my opinion. Of the three songs from their 1993 rehearsal demo, two are done better with re-recordings on the studio demo, and although “Rebirth” is an excellent track on its own, these songs are let down by the tapes crude recording quality. It’s not like this tape is unlistenable, but it has that murky sound that was so typical of rehearsal demos, which doesn’t hold up well when a band has this much low end. The live tracks aren't captured particularly well either, which is a shame as three out of the four are different songs from the demos, with “Fleshwound” deserving special mention for being the band’s most atmospheric track. Anybody familiar with these kind of underground demo compilations should know what to expect, so it shouldn’t be much of a shock for those who listen to this kind of stuff, but it is kind of a let down after the high quality of the opening tracks. All of this offensive noise is contained in one of the coolest digipaks I’ve seen from a brutal death band, eschewing the genre’s standard dull color palette for a purple and slime green painted visual assault which sticks out like a sore thumb among assorted death metal albums. Highly recommended to people who want to experience the true roots of slam death, just know that those first four tracks are what you’ll mostly be listening to. Death metal fans should at least sample Afterbirth, if only for the vocals, which along with Demilich, are unlike anything the world was ready for at the time. (Nick Ryder)

(Pathos Productions - 2013)
Score: 85