After Me, The Flood – Still Searching (2012)

Have you ever been lost? Not lost like the time you got separated from your parent in a department store or the time you were left behind at the park, but truly lost, wandering for days without a clear cut path to follow. Whether emotional or physical, the underlying trauma that accompanies the sheer lack any guiding light shining down upon you is daunting to say the least. After Me, The Flood have taken that sinking feeling and the burning in your gut and put into the emotional powerhouse Still Searching, which wanders in the space between metalcore and emotional hardcore–with no need or desire to be found.

A majority of Still Searching lies in the ethereal, hypermelodic hardcore spectrum. With brilliant, flourishing riffs and atmospheric, brilliant harmonies clashing with popping, rumbling bass lines and aggressive, brain-battering drum lines, After Me, The Flood manage to create a fast-paced album that doesn’t feel rushed or over-ambitious. Melodic guitars and splashy cymbal work crashes against the pounding bass drum and punchy bass work like waves against the rock face of a cliff, creating an idyllic, almost-aggressive and almost-heavy dynamic which resonates through the listener’s ears like thunder claps. “Watching Over Me” and “Abandonment” are archetypes of the band’s mastery of this sound, almost reveling in the freedom and wandering that comes with being truly lost between genres. With quick drumming and lathing guitar lines providing a backdrop for some of the most straightforward and heartfelt vocals the genre has to offer, these tracks are what this side of Still Searching is all about.

There is, however, a darker side to the album as well. Leaning more towards the bands older, more headstrong material, there are moments on the album that dive into an almost-metalcore style penchant for the breakdown and heaviness. While the band is not quite angrier, there is certainly a darker, less atmospheric and light side to the sound on these songs. The lead single, “Dark Times,” does this–as does “Ripped from the Coast.” These songs work in a brilliant dialectic when contrasted against the other tracks: With heavier, more down-trodden riffs, chuggier breakdowns and dark, downcast lyrical content, these tracks display the misery and demonstrate the sinking of the gut that comes with the realization that you might never, ever see home again.

The true glory of this album lies with neither “side,” however. Where Still Searching truly shines is the use of each atmosphere to create a two-headed juggernaut of a dynamic. Moments found on tracks like “Truth Is…” where soft, sunny guitar work manages to weave its way into dissonant, no-holds-barred emotional distraught. Or perhaps moments like the sheer vocal onslaught featured in “Stray Dogs,” where the vocal work contrasts so brilliantly with the instrumentals, and the emotion is so palpable and real that it gives the listener shivers. The real coup-de-grace on Still Searching, however, is the album’s conclusion, “End Times and Better Days,” which uses an almost Post-Rock styling to build a climactic mountain of sound and feeling out of such delicately simple elements, done so perfectly that the listener cannot help but marvel in its glory.

If you’ve never been truly lost, give Still Searching a listen. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself woven so deeply in After Me, The Flood’s emotional heavy-soft dynamic that not even a map and compass could get you free. However, the more the album works it’s way into your head, the more you’ll realize you might not want to get found; that not all who wander are truly lost or alone.

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For Fans Of: The Ghost Inside, Counterparts, It Prevails, Prophets, Amends

By Connor Welsh ~ Me Gusta Reviews