Chicago thrash metal pioneer Aftermath returns with a concept album that celebrates their return after an 18 year hiatus.
by Tommy Rage
Aftermath's 2019 Release "There is Something Wrong"
The aftermath of a thrash metal explosion may take some time to recover from. Especially if you have taken 18 years off and have decided to come back with a vengeance. Chicago’s own Aftermath has done exactly that. Building on their small, but strong following from their debut demo in 1986, Sentenced To Death, the young band has since grown and gained worldwide attention. Releasing their 2019 album There Is Something Wrong, Aftermath has returned to their powerful cross-over thrash-metal of the 90’s.
Gaining the early attention of Metal Hammer, and RIP magazine, Aftermath was featured in a 1988 British magazine known as Metal Forces. The magazine’s compilation LP Demolition: Scream Your Brains Out, noted the bands up-and-coming talents. The yet unsigned band released a second demo in 1990, Words that Echo Fear, which received even greater international praise and was selected as one of Kerrang’s Top 10 demos of 1990. With all the momentum building for this prospective powerhouse, Aftermath signed to Big Chief Records. The label’s collapse halfway through the recording sessions led to a long delay in finishing the band’s first record, Eyes Of Tomorrow, which wouldn’t be released until 1994. Lead singer Kyriakos “Charlie” Tsiolis talks about what it was like back in band’s early days. “We started in Chicago, on Halloween night in 1985. Back then, it was kind of magical. The 80’s and 90’s were a part of a new genre. When we started, there was no slam-dancing at heavy metal shows. It was the beginning of a new genre; and it was really exciting. We just had demos, but I would look in my mail box every day and see these orders with five dollar bills for our demo-cassettes to mail out around the world. It was pretty cool.”
Having taken some time away to sort out a legal trademark dispute with Dr. Dre over the band’s naming rights, they changed their name to Mother God Moviestar in 1998 until the courts found that both could use the name. The band returned as Aftermath in 2015, staging a small tour with notable appearances at the Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse festival in Chicago and Headbanger’s Open Air Festival in Hamburg, Germany. Tsiolis shares what it was like to get back together after all those years. “We didn’t set-out to re-start the band. The guys in Germany reached out to us, and it felt natural. When we got back together, it felt like it was almost yesterday. It was almost better than before, and it was fresh at the same time. We came back for the right reason; because we love what we are doing!”
Gathering the original band members together from the 80’s, minus one guitarist (John Lovette), the band was officially back, and ready for the opportunity to release new material. With guitarist Steve Sacco, George Nektarios Lagis on bass, and drummer Ray Schmidt, Kyriakos “Charlie” Tsiolis was a little nervous about how the band’s new album would sound to today’s audiences. “We were happy with what we had left behind. What we had done in 1988 and ’89, and our first album, Eyes Of Tomorrow. Shadow Kingdom Records released it as a double CD in 2015 and through the years it has cemented our legacy as pioneers of progressive thrash-bands. It was nerve racking, as we didn’t want to come back with a crappy album [laughter].”
Enticing you with a short mixed intro, Aftermath draws you in on There is Something Wrong with the albums first full song “False Flag Flying”, a slow, deep, bellowing song which changes pace thanks to the workings of drummer Ray Schmidt and guitarist Steve Sacco. Throughout the entire album, both Schmidt and Sacco pound all eleven tracks with a steady drive, creating a modern thrash punk tempo, which didn’t surprise Tsiolis in the least bit. “They are such brilliant players. When Aftermath broke-up in 1996, either one of them could have joined others bands. They each could have made careers strictly as musicians, but for some reason, when the band broke-up, they stopped playing. They both started back up when we got back together. That’s what makes the band so alive and fresh. We’re like a young band, because they didn’t burn themselves out.”
That fresh sound, mixed with a modern overtone is highlighted by both bassists George Nektarios Lagis and Tsiolis. Using old school recording techniques, woven between songs Tsiolis shares, “I did the interludes and intros with my phone. I would loop old practices we did, and a script that I did with my niece.”
Perhaps what truly sets There Is Something Wrong apart from most thrash albums is that it’s a modern concept album. From the very beginning, through the title track, songs like “Temptation Overthrown” and “Pseudocide”, Tsiolis talks about how emotional he felt when it came to writing this album. “The lyrics were pouring out of me, I couldn’t keep up. I hadn’t written lyrics like this since the mid 80’s. After the show in Germany, Steve started texting me riffs out of nowhere [laughter]. Riffs just started coming to him, and he would text them to me. It was a big task, as this isn’t a basic album, it’s a concept album. A very heavy topic, but something magical for us. It’s political if you just observe it quickly; but it’s not really political. It tries to make people aware of what is happening. Exposing the nefarious ways without taking a political side. We are saying that it’s the CIA, FBI, the Federal Reserve. Those are the true enemies and [people] have no idea that they are the slaves without the chains.”
Having released “Smash Reset Control” and “Diethanasia” as singles already, Tsiolis notes how “Scientists and Priests” looks to be the bands next break through song. “People love that song. We could tell right away, and the funny part about that song is that everyone thought it was going to be a hit but we haven’t released a video for it yet, like we have for our other singles. [laughter].”
Truly one can say that after taking 18 years away that Aftermath has returned to the forefront of thrash cross-over metal mixed with punk-death metal. A unique and intelligent look at society blended perfectly by three talented musicians and a skillful lead singer. Metal fans worldwide don’t have to wait for demo tapes or another 18 years for more Aftermath shares Tsiolis. “This weekend we are recording a cover song which hasn’t been done by anyone else and it’s super famous. This cover is a part of the concept of what the album is about. It’s almost like it’s a part of the script of the album; as if it was another single for the album. This cover is a part of that.”(2323) Page Views Aftermath Online:
CD: There Is Something Wrong Record Label: Zoid Entertainment/InGrooves Music Group
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