For some, progressive metal will always be a genre defined by its sprawling song structures and classical fusion. However, there comes a time when one has to wonder: if progressive metal never changes, is it still progressive? Looking to answer that question is After the Burial, who take some of the genre's lofty ideas and put them through an extreme metal filter on their fourth album, Wolves Within. The album has all the things that die-hard prog-metal fans would want -- the technically dazzling playing, the merging of disparate genres and sounds, and innovative approaches to songwriting -- but everything is pushed to the extreme ends of the spectrum. Instead of dreamy, soaring guitar runs, guitarists Justin Lowe and Trent Hafdahl work with a sound that's impossibly low and heavy, giving their riffs a cold, almost industrial feel. Merge these scraping, punishing guitars with singer Anthony Notarmaso's throat-wrecking bellow, and a rhythm section comfortable working at ridiculous speeds, and you're left with a sound that attempts to reignite the creative fire that once lived in the bellies of progressive metal bands. Sure, After the Burial might have a sound that's heavier and more mechanical than their prog forefathers, but that doesn't diminish the massive amounts of technical and creative power at work on Wolves Within. Only time will tell if this kind of progressive extreme metal is the future of the genre, but for bands like After the Burial, at least getting the conversation started is a big step forward for a genre that's been content to rest on its laurels for far too long.
AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney