Your friendly neighborhood extreme-metal band: After the Burial

One of the hardest-thrashing (and working) bands in town is a surprise entry in Saturday’s Pizza Lucé Block Party.

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Twin Cities metal quintet After the Burial performs at the Pizza Luce Block Party on Saturday in downtown Minneapolis before hitting the road this fall with Trivium and Devil Driver.

Photo: Sumerian Records,

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They’ve toured Europe, played festivals and spent eight out of 12 months on the road in recent years. So how come when Pizza Lucé announced After the Burial as the second-to-last act performing at its all-local block party on Saturday, the response from party regulars was a resounding, “Who?!”

“They’re a bit of a surprise,” admitted Pizza Lucé’s marketing manager Corey Sax. “Our new space will be big enough, people can get away from the stage if they’re afraid.”

Oh, be afraid. Be very afraid. There are ample — and, more specifically, guitar-ampful — reasons that After the Burial will wind up being one of the most shocking and memorable appearances in the Lucé block party’s 10-year history.

Last year the festival went silent as organizers sought a bigger home for the event. They found it in a parking lot across the street from their downtown Minneapolis eatery. With the harder, concrete- and warehouse-lined digs comes an appropriately heavier band.

After the Burial brandishes a brutal, harrowing, extreme brand of thrash metal that will even make fellow Lucé noisemakers Bloodnstuff come off like pussycats (to say nothing of poppier headliners Motion City Soundtrack).

The band’s story is akin to Motion City’s: It has a good national record deal but is better known outside its hometown. One reason is that it tours so much. When not on the road, its members split up into different cities (ogre-voiced singer Anthony Notarmaso lives near San Francisco).

Guitarists Justin Lowe and Trent Hafdahl formed After the Burial nearly a decade ago when they were fresh out of White Bear Lake High School. They fashioned themselves after Pantera, the Deftones and Slipknot — but somehow managed to find new ways of sounding deeper and deadlier.

Case in point: Lowe spent a few minutes telling me about his and Hafdahl’s unique guitar and amplifier setup. They play eight-string guitars specially designed by Japanese guitar maker Ibanez, with whom they have an endorsement deal. The two extra strings are thicker and thus bring them down into bass-guitar territory — which, in turn, requires bassist Lee Foral to use strings about as thick as a gondola cable.

“The poor guy,” Lowe wisecracked, but went on to explain how seriously ATB’s members are about their gearheadedness. “We’re just always experimenting and trying to come up with new ways of pushing the boundaries. It’s a big part of what this band is about.”

You can hear that push in just about any of their recordings. Take “Promises Kept,” from the group’s 2010 album “In Dreams.” It starts out with some deceptively pretty acoustic fretwork — think: Metallica’s “Fight Fire With Fire” — but gives way to the hard stuff, picking up steam to the point where the final minute sounds like a 500-car pileup set to music. It’s such an extreme climax, I asked Lowe if the band can actually pull it off in concert. His response was a bona-fide “pshaw!”

“We spend a lot of time perfecting our stuff in the studio,” he said, “but we make sure everything we record we can play on stage, too.”

Though it handles most of its own recording, ATB enlisted some outside help on recent efforts, including mixing by Meshuggah’s crew in Sweden on “In Dreams” and production from Terry Date (Pantera) on a new digital EP, “This Life Is All We Have.” All of the group’s efforts have been issued on burgeoning Los Angeles metal imprint Sumerian Records, which signed the band in 2007. “We were one of their first,” Lowe boasted.

“We spend a lot of time perfecting our stuff in the studio,” he said, “but we make sure everything we record we can play on stage, too.”

ATB just finished its fourth full-length, which it hopes to release toward the end of its fall tour with Trivium and DevilDriver. The quintet has also toured with Disturbed and Hatebreed and was supposed to play England’s big Download Festival this summer but had to back out to record.

The guys also played the Warped Tour last summer, which Lowe pointed to as proof ATB could go over well at the Lucé block party.

“We were probably the most extreme band on the lineup, and people seemed to like us,” he said, adding that he’s excited for Saturday’s show. “It’ll be nice for more of our hometown to see us.”

“Nice” isn’t the word I was thinking of.

Random mix

  • PIZZA LUCÉ BLOCK PARTY

    With: Motion City Soundtrack, After the Burial, Bloodnstuff, Haphduzn and more.

    When: Noon-10 p.m. Sat.

    Where: Lot across from downtown Lucé, 119 N. 4th St., Mpls.

    Admission: Free.

    Info: pizzaluce.com.

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