06 May 2019 (released)
09 May 2019
It's amazing that a genre who's level of complexity and talent required to execute is so high, still falls victim to homogeny. Dizzying flurries of guitar, evolving polyrhythmic drums and dynamic vocals that span from lofty sung cadences to blood-curdling bellows, the purveyors of metalcore and djent could hardly be accused of being boring. Yet after at least two decades of being a well-defined branch of the great metal tree, so much territory has been covered that a group must go the extra mile to set themselves apart.
Somerville, New Jersey outfit Dig Two Graves have a firm grasp on the metalcore ethos which is at the core of their sound but has woven in ethereal melodics and djent's dive-bomb rhythms to breed a captivating hybrid. Deathwish, though relegated to EP status, nevertheless, shapes a thematic tale worthy of an album. The album is sewn together with the archetypal theme As Above/So Below with the former opening the album and the latter serving as its closer.
'As Above' sets the scene with haunting, hanging chords and static heavy radio. A bombastic, “machine guns at night” beat cuts in carving out a place in the eerie scene. This serves as an extended intro to 'Track 2' where they explode with pummelling guitars that syncopate in lock step with the hammering drums. Guitarist Josh Brewer intercuts his low down riffery with errant eruptions of high fluttering frenzies. Vocalist Mike Reisser treads the line between guttural growls and emotionally charged singing. 'Wick' furthers the melodic focus by using a shimmering chord progression on which the digital glitch style guitar beats can attach themselves.
Any deathcore album worth its salt has to have great breakdowns and Deathwish's best comes during the title track. After a percolating 8-bit arcade build-up with storm-brewing toms, they unleash with a throw down that'll get the hair flying with exaggerated harmonics to hype up the heavy half-time riff. The closer 'So Below' is the opus of the album. The implication of innocence by the twinkling xylophone intro is quickly juxtaposed with a fury of guitar. Dig Two Graves throwdown one last time for all the marbles. Blast beats over ethereal choir, scintillating guitar runs over grinding djent. Everything but the kitchen sink. Then a serene female voice enters the fray, eventually breaking down the band and leaving her solo. After another brutal breakdown, the bellows meet her angelic refrain to tie the whole album up in one tight package.
Deathwish proves that an EP if given the right treatment with the right material, can be a powerful statement and tell a rich story, as well as a full album can. We're entering the age of the EP. It's the most feasible way to release an album in this era of streaming. Luckily, we don't have to abandon the principles on which the reign of the long play album was built. EP's can be concept albums too. On top of this, Dig Two Graves display a level of mastery at par with any of the leaders of the genre. The continued exploration into this realm of the ethereal will make the group one of the outstanding bands in the now teeming genre.