Personnel: Anthony Notarmaso (vocals); Trent Hafdahl (guitar); Dan Carle (drums).
Audio Mixers: After the Burial ; Will Putney.
The fifth studio long-player from the Minnesota-based tech-metal unit, and the first After the Burial outing to be released after the death of co-founder and guitarist Justin Lowe, Dig Deep could have been an unrelentingly somber affair. While the themes are indeed heavy (the Kübler-Ross model of grief is invoked frequently throughout the LP's just over 40-minute running time), ATB's signature brand of groove-laden, polyrhythmic djent has never sounded more immediate. While Lowe managed to make it to a handful of studio sessions before his death, the compositional duties on Dig Deep went largely to guitarist Trent Hafdahl, who knows what his band is capable of and writes accordingly. A tad less progressive than prior outings, Dig Deep doesn't exactly play it safe. Hafdahl's immaculate guitar work is matched note for note/palm mute to palm mute by the one-two punch of bassist Lerichard Foral and drummer Dan Carle, and when the trio locks in on a breakdown, it leaves a mark. Not content to let a moment pass without inserting an offbeat hit, a small rest, or a lurid, shooting star of a guitar run, the band consistently makes the impossible sound easy. Whether they're ripping off the bandage via the seismic, thrash-kissed single "Collapse," slicing through machine-gun guitarmonies on the punchy, midtempo neck-snapper "Catacombs," or distilling all of their tech-metal acumen into a good old-fashioned, multifaceted progressive shakedown ("Laurentian Ghosts"), they're doing so with a lethal mix of extreme prejudice and a deep respect for the fallen. ~ James Christopher Monger