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Hole Dug Deep - Buried Alive

Hole Dug Deep
Buried Alive
by Mark Machlay at 01 September 2020, 6:30 AM

HOLE DUG DEEP are trying to bring heavy melodic groove metal/Seattle style hard rock back into vogue. Originally formed in the Seattle area in 2013, the band has gone through a number of lineup changes but main man Brian Christensen continues to steer the ship into 2020. They take their influences from fellow Seattle grunge acts SOUNDGARDEN and ALICE IN CHAINS as wells as grunge progenitors MELVINS and seminal bay area thrashers METALLICA to create a raw distinctly pacific northwest heavily distorted yet melodic sound. They continue the tradition of the darker side of hard rock and heavy metal, looking at the world “through the eyes of a dark soul traveler into the mind of evil and death”. Reportedly the band are working on a new album since signing with Sliptrick Records which was anticipated in 2019 and expected to contain twelve new tracks.

However, the band have so far only released one album, originally arriving in 2017, titled “Buried Alive”, now being re-released in 2020 through their new record label. The album explores diverse themes beginning with a warning to realize one’s own self-destruction before it’s too late, discusses the United States’ homelessness epidemic, and even deals with death while being a teenager. The release expands the tracklist by including “Them Bones” – a cover of the ALICE IN CHAINS song – and “Uranus is Nice”, a ten plus minute instrumental journey through the sludgy oeuvre of groove metal.  The eye-catching cover artwork was created by the band’s own lead man Christensen. Though not clear from the artwork, the band asserts that “the angel of death is the mascot for HOLE DUG DEEP especially if that Hole is 6 feet Deep!”

From their self-professed influences, you would think you would get a tight, multi-layered, grunge based groove metal that kicks some ass. I struggled to get through most of this though. The first two tracks “Hole Dug Deep” and “Deadbeat” are so repetitive and boring that even an interesting lead section reprieving my ears from the mediocrity in the former couldn’t help power me through the latter. But if you can get through those, “Mental” is nice exploration through clean guitar and phase-y electric guitar lead lines that sets you into a trance. Unfortunately, with the bland, under-dynamic drums phrases it does seem to go on a bit too long. “Next Time” was the most interesting track even if it uses the trope of clean guitar for the verses and distorted guitar for the choruses but it has some pretty captivating lead lines that blend and weave through the rhythm guitar riffs. “Brick” brings the heavy with a thick, meaty bass tone fitting for the songs title and is an unrelenting freight train of a song.

But with the additions for the re-release and the overall production, it drags my impression of the whole record down into the gutter. I don’t know what happened with my promotional copy because the levels for the two additional tracks were far below the rest and I had to jack my volume up just to hear them. They seemed to have fixed the issue on digital platforms so it may be a moot issue. However, production issues aside, Layne Staley has got to be rolling in his grave with the absolutely garbled and uncalled for vocal adlibs that Christensen presents here. Then there is what I can only guess is a recorded jam session for “Uranus is Nice”. “Mental” was a good explorative instrumental piece mostly because it was so mercifully short but this feels like pieces of a song that deserve vocals and several trims. While the last two tracks had their own issues, production is garbled, bass drum sound is wet and slappy like a dead fish and the bass guitar tone is warbly and inconsistent throughout the record. It’s not something I’d recommend but I imagine they might get a lot of gigs in your local dive bar playing to people who want to hear “real hard rock from the 90s” without the glitz and polish of slick turn-of-the-century production.

Songwriting: 4
Musicianship: 6
Memorability: 4
Production: 4

2 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Hole Dug Deep
2. Deadbeat
3. Mental
4. Welcome to Hell
5. Next Time
6. Brick
7. Them Bones
8. Uranus is Nice
Lineup:
Brian Christensen – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar and Lead Guitar
Daniel Rathbun – Bass Guitar
James Johnson (Clay) – Rhythm Guitar and Lead Guitar
Thomas Hixon (TJ) – Drums
Record Label: Sliptrick Records
     


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