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Following on from what was an extremely difficult and emotionally taxing 2015 for After The Burial, what with guitarist Justin Lowe sadly passing away, we all expected the band to take a break. Or maybe even call it quits, given the shocking circumstances. But here we are in 2016 and, despite all their hardships, we have After The Burial’s latest record sitting in our proverbial laps. And it’s pretty damn good.
When we first heard the album teaser released a few weeks ago, it seemed that the band’s latest full-length was a pretty stock standard release, as far as progressive metal goes nowadays, anyway. But after a run through the whole album, the consensus is clear. After The Burial have dialled everything up to 11, and then thought, ‘Nah, fuck it, we need more’ and have taken the ‘go big or go home’ approach to heart. And man, have they gone big here or what!
‘Dig Deep’ really is the sonic beast that ‘Wolves Within’ should have been. It’s crunchy and heavy, it’s emotional and melodic, and of course it’s as tight, as technical and as groovy as you’d expect from the progressive metalcore outfit. Let us be clear, it’s not that Lowe’s tragic death means that we have to enjoy and praise this record, as there’s a igh chance that if he was still alive, this record would still be just as good.
And what makes it good? Well, the great nine songs that make it up, obviously. The hectic Meshuggah-like groove in the middle of ‘Mire’, the sharp guitar squeals on ‘Catacombs’, the crushing scope ‘Lost In The Static’, and the sheer size of the old school sounding ‘Sway Of The Break‘, there is just so much to enjoy and dig into with ‘Dig Deep’. This really is the strongest After The Burial release to date, trust us. The djent horn in ‘Laurentian Ghosts‘ is also pretty baller, too.
Now honestly, while this album isn’t all that different from their prior albums in terms of the genre and style, and these nine songs stand out more so than most of the back catalogue ever did, and that’s really saying something. There is practically no filler to be found here as well, and hopefully the rest of world agrees with us on that.
Is this record a case of a deep and tragic loss spurning on powerful creativity and incredible music? We’d say so, as it’s more often than not that from tragedy a potent form of strength and hope is born, and that seems to be the case here. Of course, it’s bittersweet that this fantastic record had to come at such a great loss. Considering that Lowe wrote some (not all, but a good amount according to the band) of the riffs and guitar parts before his death, this record also carries with it a lot of catharsis and emotional weight. This comes out the strongest in what is arguably one of the best songs off the album; the emotive and beautiful ‘Laurentian Ghosts’, which is a powerful tribute to their fallen band mate and a track that will resonate with any and all fans (except for that goddamned air horn halfway through – seriously, what?)
From a great loss has birthed what is easily After The Burial’s best record to date. This band has a pretty solid discography, let’s be real, so this record had a lot to live up to, and it has blown any and all expectations out of the water. There really is no better tribute to Justin Lowe than ‘Dig Deep’, and whether you’re a fan or not, you should go listen to this album right now.
2. Lost In The Static
5. Laurentian Ghosts
6. Heavy Lies The Ground
8. The Endless March
9. Sway Of The Break