With every genre, it is second nature to anyone strongly familiar with it to attach certain names at the drop of a hat. Metalcore is no different – and August Burns Red is no stranger to their familiarity with the term. Paving a road to the top of the pile has been a tedious one for the Pennsylvania quintet, but their work on 2009’s Constellations cemented their place among the underground’s finest shredders. Two years later, their newest full-length Leveler finds August Burns Red at the top of their game, succeeding from start to finish at creating what is arguably their strongest, and at times most ambitious, record to date.
From the looming melodic building up of “Empires” opening machine gun assaults on your ears to the melodic blitzkrieg injected into “Boys of Fall”, Leveler is everything you have come to expect from August Burns Red – and more. The band wastes no time pummeling you into submission with the heavy-hitting punches of opener “Empire”, as drummer Matt Griener leads the charge with his strong-as-ever kit work. You get tons of tasty licks from the guitars as well, all while vocalist Jake Luhrs commands the mic with ferocity and passion. “Pangea” is littered with driving melodies to compliment the unrelenting drums and rhythm guitars, and is structured perfectly to build up the energy created from said melodies to explode into something abrasive, yet singalong worthy. In a form reminiscent of Messengers, “Boys of Fall” harps of a catchy rhythmic punch that slides in plenty of catchy guitar licks and forward-thinking breakdowns led by Griener’s impressive chops. They do this all without falling into the pitfalls many modern metalcore bands seemingly can’t shy away from – slugged out, boring breakdowns and overly repetitive song structures. August Burns Red might not be bending the rules as much as bands like Between the Buried and Me or Protest the Hero, but they excel at creatively penning heavy music without losing musicianship or, perhaps more importantly, passion.
Don’t get comfortable though. Even amongst their usual tracks, ABR find ways to not only keep it fresh, but surprise us at the same time. “Internal Cannon” delves into a BTBAM-like experimentation of salsa-derived guitars, spicing up the track with a timbre that is so left field it’ll have you asking friends to pass the chips and salsa. While it is a bit weird at first, the band is so confident in its execution that you can’t help but nod your head to them for trying it. “Carpe Diem” takes a break from the action to create some mid-tempo tension with huge guitars and fiery vocals to kind of slow things down a bit. A welcome break, it falls a little flat in sections but achieves the goal of giving us a breather from the punishing tracks surrounding it.
As the album’s title track closes out things with a kick straight to the face, you’ll be left gasping for more as August Burns Red’s fourth full-length goes out with a tension-led bang. After taking us to dizzying heights with Constellations, August Burns Red levels all doubts of a successful followup with this record. Simply put, there seems to be no stopping this band from continuing their trend of forward-thinking metalcore, and Leveler doesn’t disappoint.
2. Internal Cannon
4. Cutting the Ties
6. Carpe Diem
7. 40 Nights
8. Salt & Light
9. Poor Millionaire
11. Boys of Fall
August Burns Red is a metalcore band from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, US.... read more