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Liberally Imbibe From The Crystal Chalice - 83%

CHAIRTHROWER, March 16th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2017, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

Considering it’s been on the backburner for what seems like ages, practically boiling away to the point of evaporation (i.e. at risk of disappearing from my short list!), and that it makes a fine Sapphic complement, cover wise, to Merlin’s The Wizard, I figured it was time to give After Dusk’s fourth full-length release, The Character of Physical Law, a go as the Athens/Attica quartet duly merits accolades for its enchantingly refractive hybrid of power, doom, thrash and groove metal fused over nine tracks totaling three-quarters of an hour.

Aside from FrozenSand’s gregarious and sagacious review, this compelling Greek anomaly has somehow slipped through the Metal-Archives dragnet since its 1998 formation. While she did a fine job of capturing its magic, I feel it deserves further propping-up as this isn’t your everyday, garden-variety (or alternatively, extreme) heavy metal but rather, an ethereally captivating affair which warrants several listens in a row. For one thing, the singer’s low-ranged drawl has a distinctively eerie and lugubrious as well as purposefully nasal twine not unlike, as previously mentioned, Prong’s Tommy Victor, with perhaps a soupcon of Mike Muir’s resigned and squirely disposition, especially on “Kings of Misery”. Secondly, his downcast, at times, rapidly coasting delivery fits the mountainous yet sharply angled as well as ever-switching instrumentation to a tee. For example, on “Masters of Earth”, his languidly stewing despondence, juxtaposed as it is over the cyclical and slowly tremolo’d riffing, builds up a brooding tension for slightly over two minutes before the guitar breaks out into a frenzied downwind shuffle made only more atmospheric by the vividly haunting keyboards which heavily permeate the album and in the process, greatly do justice to the cover’s red-headed and buxom temptress. In other words, these eclectic yet easily digestible yarns are as mythical and mystical as said eye-pleasing artwork.

Another factor which largely contributes to TCoPL’s ephemeral albeit raw appeal is how, despite being cut from the same richly textured cloth, none of the tracks sound alike or succumb to repetition. All moving parts (i.e. fluent coalescing guitar riffs, unorthodox yet highly intricate drum beats and fat, resonant bass lines) coast along ever-gracefully without hitting turgid snags or wallowing for long before effortlessly transitioning to the next well-placed arrangement. One track which beautifully, if not raucously, demonstrates the band's haphazard fluidity in a most stand-out manner is the massively gripping “Pyroclastic Flow (Honeydoom)”, on which the guitarist precariously teeters between full-blown Shufflelafagus mode and a dime-stopping about turn/suavely unfolding and placid, carnival-esque progression, with further wizened, eldritch keys supplementing a most evocative backdrop. Notwithstanding personal taste, it’s easily the most memorable track (as well as the most flavorful “doom”!).

The fire-brand guitar solos, though sparse, aren’t limited to token singular appearances at the mid-way or two-thirds mark; instead, they’re either sweetly tucked within the songs’ multi-layered arrangements, such as on the relaxing and mellow, almost Leonard Cohen-ish, rainbow and lullaby evoking “Take the Bitterness Away” (the singer is notably crooning and emotional here) or dominantly right up in your face, like at the behest of another fan favorite, the ludicrously macabre “A Corpse With A Smile”, which showcases a slew of Adams Family styled keys whilst the vocals and lyrics truly take the cake, especially on the grooved out, creepily amusing chorus. Also of note is the lurching and pummeling bass line as it buoyantly upholds this most festive albeit sinister track. (Although the bass generally takes a backseat to the vocals, guitar and drums, bear in mind it shines brightest on the bridges and solo sections.)

Like a fine wine, After Dusk’s The Character of Physical Law will effortlessly induce a warm and hazy glow in fans of any of the above mentioned genres. Cheesy as this may sound, as with Ancient Greece, its antiquated charisma and charm also constitute a true find for “academic” metal heads far and wide. In short, it's highly worth checking out.

Hybrids are beautiful. - 96%

FrozenSand, June 24th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

I have come to the conclusions that After Dusk are one of the most underrated bands in the Greek underground scene. Given their talent and the quality of their music, they are up there with the most famous Greek bands, such as Septic Flesh, Rotting Christ and Firewind. Their new record is a great example of diversity and experimentation, which shows how those two, can work out without being pretentious.

The Character of Physical Law is a beautiful, delicious salad. Yes, you read that well. A salad made of thrash, power and progressive elements, with a dash of death metal and an idea of jazz. The main riffs and the fast drumming are mainly inspired by thrash. In “The Pyroclastic Flow” and “Even the Sun Must Die” though, they develop an atmosphere much closer to death and black metal. The leads at the beginning of many of the tracks sound pretty close to European power metal, with the solos emitting progressive vibes. One can also spot many style changes at the same song. For instance, the aforementioned “The Pyroclastic Flow” turns from a death metal like song to a 80s heavy metal ballad and then to a Voivod inspired thrash anthem. Another great example is “Mindinfestation”, one of my personal favorites. It combines thrash, power and 80s NWOBHM and peppers the song with some modern rock vibes.

The band’s influences aren’t limited to metal only. Apart from the already mentioned modern rock elements, I have noticed some retro video game soundtrack keyboards, which thankfully keep from sounding cheesy. The track “Take the Bitterness Away” begins as a jazz rock song, heavily bass driven, before changing into doom metal and then transforming into a ballad. The classical guitar closure marks the end for this rather diverse song.

I struggled a little bit with the vocals. Not because I couldn’t stand them, but because I was trying to remember the person the vocalist’s voice reminded me. After three songs, I made it; he sounds like a softer version of Tommy Victor of Prong, which isn’t a bad thing, as I quite like Tommy’s voice. Unlike the latter, he doesn’t sing really aggressively, but he puts so much emotion that causes the listener the illusion of “being” in the song.

The diversity also applies to the lyrics. I have to say this; Paminos is a great lyricist as well as singer. He’s written philosophical, thought-provoking lyrics about human existence in a, strangely enough, scientific way. His lyrics here also praise the power of human feelings and point out their consequences. Of course, there is criticism of religion and the human tendency to blindly follow someone or something, as well as egoism, not written in a “wake up sheeple” style, but to a more self aware way. The possibly weirdest moment is a song about an old dude who died from a heart attack because of the pills he took to “satisfy” the girl he cheated on his wife with.

This record is of great originality. Apart from some Voivod and Vektor influences, as long as some Metallica-esque riffs, After Dusk have established their own sound and style. With this effort, they have proven that experimentation is something important, if not essential, for a band to excel. I dare to call this LP one of the best of 2017 and I hope After Dusk get some recognition on an international level-they deserve it.