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At the time of their 2005 debut album, Fear in a Handful of Dust — boasting a thrashy take on the metalcore template so popular in the mid-2000s — Chicago, IL's Hurtlocker consisted of vocalist Grant Belcher, guitarists Tim Moe and Pete Manzella, bassist Dan Manzella, and drummer Dan Ditella, but the group had already gone through countless personnel changes since forming in 1998. Nevertheless, they entered 2006 firing on all cylinders and toured across both the U.S. and Europe with the likes of Grave, Aborted, Cryptopsy, and Deicide, only to lose drummer Ditella later in the year, when he died suddenly from what were termed "rehab-related complications."