Written by: The Administrator
The metal community has used metalcore (and its affiliates) as the butt of a joke for so long that many of us have forgotten or neglected its true strength: namely, a vehicle for the explosive expression of emotion. The stigma certainly has a basis in, y'know, a veritable bevy of lackluster exemplars of the style, but the general notion that "metalcore = intrinsically bad" is an obviously unfair burden to place upon the diamonds in the rough. While many of us are understandably cynical, there's a lot of very good metalcore out there that remains hidden behind prejudicial assumptions about the style, and that's a damn shame.
In any case, today's two-track demonstrates quite well the aforementioned strength of the style: an ability to convey feelings like anger and angst in a notably volatile and cathartic fashion. These dual singles from L.A's own AFTERMYFALL illustrate the success one can find when deliberately borrowing from other genres, injecting a little heartfelt authenticity, and avoiding the performative pitfalls that plague the dregs of 'core.
You can't go wrong with a strong thematic basis, and in that regard, AFTERMYFALL comes out of the gate swinging. The Sound of Static feels honest and introspective in its portrayal of the artist's experience with mental illness--a quality that frankly sets these tracks apart in a sea of commercialized angst. The first track, "Run For The Exit," deals explicitly with agoraphobia. To quote the artist's bio: "the song captures the torment of suffering from agoraphobia and the difficulty in sitting with the feeling that you're trapped behind a windowpane while the world is passing by you." Cleverly incorporating elements of ambient and post-hardcore, "Run For The Exit" feels lonely on the basis of its sonic makeup, which lends the vocals and lyrical content the space to feel expressive without needing to carry the full weight of the track's emotional banner. I do wish the AFTERMYFALL committed a little more into the ambient soundscape, drawing the track out even further, but as it stands I'm quite impressed with the blend of elements and the overall impact.
Follow-up track "Ten of Swords" replaces the softer side with a more traditional pugilistic approach. The guitar is loud and explosive, settling quickly into a lurching motif that serves as suitable headbang fodder. The (excellent!) harsh(er) vocals are similarly traditional: spat through a sneer. You know the stuff. When the cleans do hit, they provide a nice balance without feeling drenched in the saccharine syrup that unfortunately defines many of metalcore's worst offenders. This track is described as a process of venting stress, anxiety, and depression, and if the catharsis it provides a removed listener is any indication, it seems to have accomplished its mission.
On The Sound of Static, AFTERMYFALL does hit a lot of the tropes associated with genre convention, from the stylized band name, to the implicit melodrama of the artwork, to the lyrical emphasis on deeply personal pain, to the utilization of buildups and breakdowns, to the pop-adjacent hookiness. However, neither of these tracks fall too far into the stereotype, and instead utilize the expected tools in a refined manner. AFTERMYFALL shakes expectations to a significant degree. There are no Of Mice And Men-esque filtered-to-hell-and-back choruses. The two tracks here aren't constructed around a monolithic breakdown. The emotional components feel very down-to-earth--partially influenced by the artist's statement, but more largely due to a general ability to keep things from getting sappy or performative. It is very authentic, and that counts. Lest it be forgot, the production is nice and crisp, delivering that modern bite without feeling aggressively polished. The guitars have a nice heft, and the vocals are pretty damn perfect.
At just over 6 minutes, The Sound of Static quite simply makes me yearn for more, and if that's not a promising sign, I dunno what to tell you. Indeed, the outro of "Ten of Swords" is practically begging for a follow-up track. Should AFTERMYFALL drop an album in the future, I'll certainly be first in line to give it a listen. In the meantime, The Sound of Static shakes up expectations and presents an intriguing amuse-bouche for existing fans of the genre. This may not be the release that opens the door for those who don't already have an affinity for 'core, but, should you fall in the latter category, I definitely recommend checking it out regardless. You never know.
AFTERMYFALL - The Sound of Static was released May 27th, 2021, and can be found here.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!