Afterbirth – In But Not Of

On October 20th, the new album by the American band Afterbirth has seen the light of day, released via Willowtop Records. The band has received little attention here at Zware Metalen, aside from the review of the 2014 Demo. That needs to change!

First, a brief biography:

Afterbirth was founded by singer Matt Duncan and guitarist Cody Drasser, with Keith Harris on drums, who had never played a blast beat before auditioning, and David Case on bass. Afterbirth, and particularly Matt Duncan, is reportedly known as the inventor of the “toilet bowl” grunt. I must say it’s a fairly accurate description of the deep growls that consistently pervade the musical performances. The band has essentially existed since 1993, with a mere two-year run that produced two demos. The band pulled the plug in 1994 while they were already building momentum within the death metal scene. Perhaps their unique style of death metal was ahead of its time for a broader audience. In 2013, the guys got back together and released the 2014 demo. Internal confusion about the band’s future and the resulting tensions led to Matt Duncan’s departure. Two years later, the man sadly took his own life. This incident is not linked to his departure from the band, according to the other band members. Rumors about this have been quashed. In the meantime, Will Smith, not that one!, joined the band, and with this lineup, they recorded and released the excellent albums The Time Traveler’s Dilemma and Four Dimensional Flesh through Unique Leader Records. And now, the third full-length album, In but Not of.

Afterbirth plays fundamentally heavy death metal. By heavy, I mean really heavy. All the elements within the band work together like a well-oiled machine to produce this sound. The thundering bass, the low-tuned guitar, and the toilet bowl growls of the singer, along with the masterful drum work that doesn’t waste a single fill, make this a filthy piece of work. Notably, with just one guitarist, they still achieve an incredibly full sound. The interplay between the bass and guitar is largely responsible for this. Impressive. In addition to the heavy, thunderous death metal, Afterbirth distinguishes itself by incorporating a multitude of breaks and musical excursions. The brutal death metal is sometimes unleashed on you ruthlessly in each song, and alongside those salvos, you get to enjoy the creative outbursts that In But Not Of offers in abundance.

This ranges from chaotic high-pitched guitar work to enchanting melodies emanating mysteriously from the bass guitar. Even bits of ambiance or dreamy passages are discernible. However, it never feels like things are getting out of hand. The overall sound remains heavy, and with the varied additions, Afterbirth has, in my opinion, developed an even more unique style that is highly diversified. The fantastic drum work should also not go unnoticed; this drummer holds everything together superbly. On top of this, the band writes, in my view, fantastic songs. During some tracks, they manage to instill a sense of serene calm, even while you’re still definitely listening to fierce death metal. Just listen to the track Devils With Dead Eyes where the band opens all registers right at the beginning of the record. What a bizarrely fantastic track.

I don’t think Afterbirth is for all death metal fans, but if you have a soft spot for Blood Incantation and Artificial Brain, you won’t go wrong here. Another band that came to mind while listening was Lykathea Aflame, especially on the title track In But Not Of, Autoerotic Amputation and Succumb to Life.

For me, there have been several great releases this year, and this is one of them. I am very impressed with the music presented here. The whole package is complete, the entire album is well-balanced, it’s not too short (35 minutes), it makes you drift away during the tracks, only to grab you again with both hands, and it’s held together by a high level of musical craftsmanship. In but Not of – you’re there, but you’re not a part of it. That’s how this beautiful record feels; it holds your attention so strongly that you feel like you’ve become a part of a magnificent listening experience, even though you’re probably just sitting at home with headphones on, relaxed.




Willowtip Records, 2023


  1. Tightening the Screws
  2. Devils with Dead Eyes
  3. Vomit on Humanity
  4. Autoerotic Amputation
  5. Vivisected Psychopomp
  6. Hovering Human Head Drones
  7. In but Not Of
  8. Angels Feast on Flies
  9. Time Enough Tomorrow
  10. Death Invents Itself
  11. Succumb to Life


  • Will Smith – Vocals
  • David Case – Bass
  • Keith Harris – Drums
  • Cody Drasser – Guitar