Album Review: After The Burial ‘In Dreams’

It seems lately that the big craze now is 7 or 8 string guitars: The lower the tuning, the more brutal the music. At least, that’s what bands think. More often than not, poor tones and generic songwriting plague what could otherwise be an interesting use of extended range instruments. After The Burial (interview here) tout their dual wielding 8 string guitarists as a huge part of their appeal. So does it help them or hinder them on their latest endeavor, ‘In Dreams’? Check out after the jump. 

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‘In Dreams’ kicks off with ‘My Frailty’, a track that starts off with highly dissonant juxtapositions of low ‘chugging’ and higher, ear-piercing chords. Changing styles multiple times through the course of it’s near five-minute length, ‘My Frailty’ gives a good example of what we can expect from the rest of the album.
Production wise, ‘In Dreams’ is solid. With instruments tuned so low, it’s hard to distinguish between the bass and the guitars, but there is definitely a solid low-end, so perhaps the distinction is not necessary in this case. My biggest complaint with the production is that the lower the notes get, the less articulate and recognizable they are. There were many times that while listening to ‘In Dreams’, I thought the guitarists were playing muted strings instead of any actual perceivable notes. 
As ‘In Dreams’ progresses, there are more and more moments that are reminiscent of bands such as As I Lay Dying and All That Remains. The mixture of clean and growling vocals as well as the guitar melodies are what bring this to mind. Also, ‘In Dreams’ suffers from what I like to call the ‘single note breakdown’ syndrome: Many of the breakdowns throughout the songs are just syncopated chugging on an open string, most often here the B or F#. Adding in a few notes into the ‘chugging’ to break the monotony isn’t such a bad thing, I assure you. 
However, that being said, there are several tracks that are quite a great deal of fun, specifically ‘Your Troubles Will Cease And Fortune Will Smile Upon You’ and ‘Encased In Ice’. These tracks give off the feeling that the band had a great deal of fun recording them and that translates into what is heard. 
The Final Word: While solid in production, ‘In Dreams’ doesn’t offer anything new to the genre. Rather it takes what is already there and puts it onto a couple of 8-string guitars. Just because it’s lower doesn’t mean it’s original. I hope that ‘Encased in Ice’, being the last track and easily the best on the album, is a precursor of what is to come. If that’s the case, I’ll be first in line for the next After The Burial release.