Album Review: "Dig Deep" by After the BurialDate: February 17, 2016
The past 7 months or so have been a wild ride for After the Burial and there was a point where the future of the band was up in the air. Guitarist Justin Lowe’s passing in July was something the whole metal community felt and the band dropped off the Summer Slaughter tour to recover from this giant loss. The band decided they should carry on because that’s what Justin would want and went on to record Dig Deep. When a band loses a key member, especially in a tragic way like AFB, it can set back a band and they may never get back to the state they were in. After the Burial are making a statement with Dig Deep that they are at their best and Justin would be proud.
These nine tracks are the perfect example as to why After the Burial are part of the top tier of the djent scene. The first release as a four piece builds on where they left off with their last release and a personal favorite of mine, 2013’s Wolves Within. Produced by guitarist Trent Hafdahl, the heaviness on this album could not be lifted by the strongest man on the planet. The djenty chugs are huge, the drums punch, and it sounds like vocalist Anthony Notarmaso is a monster trying to climb into my brain through my ears. The production is so clean and enormous sounding.
Known for their groovy style of djent, the band definitely continues their signature grooviness all over Dig Deep with ridiculous breakdowns and chugging patterns throughout every song. Their lead single “Lost in the Static” is a perfect example of this hypnotic groove that runs rampant. Notarmaso’s vocals fit so well over the instrumentation even going into almost a nu metal rap flow at times like on “Lost in the Static.” Notarmaso has some of the best vocals in the current scene for sure.
The talent of Hafdahl, bassist Lee Foral, and drummer Dan Carle is through the roof and they all shine on Dig Deep. The patterns they play are so tight and their flourishes are tasteful and compliment the songs extremely well. Carle’s fills throughout sound almost unhuman because of how good he is with his hands and especially his foot work. The guitar solos are virtuoso like at times like on “Heavy Lies the Ground” and you can feel the emotion going into the playing. The tap part towards the end of “The Endless March” is hypnotic and the solo on “Collapse” shreds hard. The leads on this album are entrancing like on “Lost in the Static” and “Catacombs.” Also the band creates a great atmospheric feel with the tap acoustic guitar intro on “Laurentian Ghosts” and the ominous intro on “Heavy Lies the Ground.”
My favorite standout tracks are “Lost in the Static,” “Catacombs,” and “Laurentian Ghosts.” I love the breakdowns, leads, and grooves of these three tracks. “Laurentian Ghosts” really stands out to me because of how atmospheric it is with the unique intro that sets the tone the song and seems to evoke a little more emotion in me than the other tracks. Something unique to “Laurentian Ghosts” is the use of an air horn that you typically would hear in a rap song that came totally unexpected to me right before a devastating breakdown.
An interesting point to note is the imagery of mummies and pyramids that come to mind while listening to a few songs. The band has mentioned this in an interview or two since some people have mentioned it after hearing “Lost in the Static.” The lead of the song definitely brings that imagery to mind. It fits since they’re on Sumerian Records.
After the Burial are back in the saddle with Dig Deep and they show that nothing will stop them from making extremely groovy brutal tunes. Dig Deep is a definite contender for album of the year in my book and I can already guarantee that these songs are going to slay live.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this review are the opinions of the writer alone. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of WSOU, Seton Hall University, nor any of its affiliates.