After the traumatic drama surrounding After The Burial last year, it must be stated that it’s nothing short of a miracle that the four piece are currently active, let alone releasing music of this calibre. Founding member Justin Lowe officially left the band in June 2015 after a paranoid mental breakdown, publicly accusing his band, record label and close relations of “trying to destroy his life”. He was reported as missing on July 20th and the following day was found dead by a hiker under the bridge of which he had jumped from. Through much turmoil and loss the aptly named ‘Dig Deep‘ sees the band pushing forward in the face of adversity and allowing their brother’s legacy to live on with the band he created.
The first opening three tracks are very much what we’ve come to expect of After The Burial over the past few releases. Heavy as hell 8 and 9 strings litter the arrangements with the djent planet smasher drum triggers and the Vai meets Thordendal fret board wizardry from Trent Hafdahl. The LP takes a more melodic turn for the title track ‘Dig Deep‘ where huge leads intertwine with massive breakdowns that damn your speakers to hell.
“Deluge” is one for the extended range bedroom shredders being as much a guitar solo as song and may even leave Paul Gilbert wondering just what he’s been doing with a six string all these years. With a heavy power metal vibe we can see just how far we’ve progressed since Dragonforce became popular for about ten minutes. “Laurentian Ghosts” again pulls at this dichotomy of unreal detuned heaviness and early 2000’s melodic pop punk, sounding like a play date between Periphery and Coheed and Cambria. It’s a bringing together of styles that makes it hard to ignore the emotion channelled through these musicians as each song was cast to tape.
“Heavy Lies The Ground” begins with an electronically infused introduction, a characteristic of their sound that’s not been expressed much in the album. Staccato and chug heavy it’s representative of where we’ve been before with After The Burial but allows the improvement in Anthony Notarmaso vocals to shine through. “Catacombs” is a slower and more pensive track that is until the pinched harmonic onslaught that gives a Killswitch Engage live show a run for its money. “The Endless March” and “Sway of the Break” show again that Trent most definitely has had his shreddies for morning, lunch and dinner that day, yet is more rootsy in terms of After The Burial’s pallet of influence.
Regardless of circumstance, ‘Dig Deep‘ is a performance that just does that. A Fantastic LP that shows the talent and perseverance of band that have certainly seen dark days. Heavy, recorded masterfully and pushing the boundaries of who the band are it’s a release that will help After The Burial rise higher up the Sumerian stock pile. To overcome the odds and keep their brother’s memory in their hearts, its mere existence is a fitting tribute to their friend and band mate. RIP Justin Lowe. Long Live After The Burial.