The maturation of a youthfully restless sound
One thing that will be immediately striking to fans of the band is that Thereafter is notably softer overall than any of the band’s previous records. Unlike previous EP Some Things We Carry, Always, Save Us From the Archon has honed the more ambient side of their sound, adding in more relaxed interludes instead of operating at the same constant breakneck pace of their usual fare. Take heed, however, because the highly technical and melodic math shredding is still present in copious amounts; it’s just counterbalanced and contrasted effectively by a previously underused soft side of the band.
This expansion of sound allows for an interesting stop-start dynamic, and the style of music the band plays allows for very mercurial time signatures and sudden eruptions of noise; Save Us From the Archon traverses this field very well, and the bombastic eruptions of highly technical instrumental work are all the more effective when buffered with the relaxing moods set by the ambient interludes. New experiments in texture also lend Thereafter a more matured feel than previous works; the first track alone contains a high amount of deviation from the usual “wall of noise” doctrine, throwing in a surprising acoustic guitar buildup as well as a jazz-reminiscent break during the sonic assault portion of the song. The remainder of the album is along the same lines, and the band simply does a lot more with their sound than usually expected of a math rock band, traversing previously uncharted territory with grace. Production-wise, there is a notable decrease in sharpness from the production on Some Things We Carry, Always, but that isn’t necessarily a detriment; Thereafter appears to be more professionally produced, with more balance in the mix. It isn’t as piercing as the EP mastering, but it panders well to the less technical, structurally-focused side of the music.
Thereafter ends up playing like less of a record and more like a journey; like any other Save Us From the Archon album, it will take time to fully appreciate the small nuances and miniscule details, and there are a lot of musical ideas here thrown in like some sort of orgasmic puree. Addictive to math rock junkies, yet paced calmly enough to invite extended listening, Thereafter is a remarkable example of the evolution of talent.