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Steel balls and meaningful technicality - 98%

sonoflilith, May 2nd, 2016
Written based on this version: 2015, 2CD, Shadow Kingdom Records (Reissue, Limited edition)

Tech/prog thrash metal from 1990. Written between 1988-1990, recorded in 1990, released 4 years later in 1994 due to record company bankruptcy. Chicago band.

Fucking relentless grooving riffs right off the bat. And the vocalist Charlie Tsiolis sounds like Ron Broder of Coroner. Hell yes! Okay, admittedly, the initial impression Aftermath's album made on me was superb to say the least. And after listening to the album practically non-stop for a whole few months I can safely say this will be one of my favourite albums ever.

Them coming first as sounding like Coroner is not to say that Aftermath has no sound of their own. They also come from the same timeline as Coroner, the late 80's, so I speculate it's just a case of sharing the same kind of influences. They are somehow a little bit more badass than Coroner and I really dig the vocalist's style that has angry rant-like qualities sometimes. Love the lyrics too. The singer has a unique way of kinda going out of time here and there but it fits the mood of the lyrics so well and gives the music vast amounts of chaos and aggression, so it doesn't matter to me if it's on purpose or not. Check out the title track for example to hear his almost desperate ranting verses and the extremely catchy chorus which has a surprisingly complex vocal rhythm that may initially sound confusing but the riff and the bass hitting the chords are so metal it's impossible to resist moshing. The singer pulls off a pretty varied effort considering the whole album, sounding emotional and even haunting on other tracks, like the awesome ”Proud Reflex”.

The band is organically tight and I love how the album sounds production wise. Especially the drums sound excellent. I think the drums bring this album to a whole new level of technicality because the player, Ray Schmidt, basically avoids cliches like the classic thrash beat and clearly has more influences than Overkill and Kill 'Em All.

The bass is luckily very audible because the player complements the riffs with just the right mixture of simply rounding up headbanging moments and adding more unique lines that snake around the guitars. There are quite a few moments of the bass going full on solo and it's great because the player has the confidence and the skill to pull it off, like the latter part of ”Being” for example. The guitars are natural in a way that you can actually hear there are two different players performing on each side. My only, and minimal, gripe is that the soloing could have maybe used a bit more composing to make the leads catchier.

The songs are entertaining in a way only the best tech-thrash bands get. The longer tunes sound epic and not just long for the sake of being long, like for example the atmospheric ”Change Of Mood” or the excellent ”Experience” with it's aggravated, ranting lyrics about corrupt leaders and the naive people following them. ”Change Of Mood” has a one of a kind feel, it's amazing how they found the perfect lyrical content to fit the melancholy riffs. And for a lengthy song it grabs you right from the first second because the lyrics describe a depressed mind so well. What I really like is that Aftermath goes in guns blazing omitting prog cliches like unnecessary keyboard intros altogether. Well, the 10th track, an instrumental jam piece called ”Snuff” is pretty trivial, but it is fortunately tagged at the end of the album and I guess the controlled guitar feedback makes it sound pretty sinister.

I just don't get bored with this album and it pours energy to my day. Eyes Of Tomorrow has a unique atmosphere and steel balls with just the right amount of almost punk-like aggression mixed with meaningful technicality.

(Sidenote: the 2015 reissue by Shadow Kingdom records has bonus tracks from a 1988 demo and a 1996 demo but I'm only reviewing the actual record that spans the first 10 tracks.)