Wednesday, July 27, 2011

August Burns Red - Leveler

August Burns Red
Solid State Records/E.M.I. Music Australia

Lancaster (Pennsylvania, U.S.) based metalcore act August Burns Red’s gradual rise in the scene has seen them become leaders in their own right, with the band’s three full length releases garnishing an increasing amount of critical acclaim from both fans and press alike.
The band’s successful studio efforts also translated to stage success as well, with the five piece act (Comprising of vocalist Jake Luhrs, guitarists JB Brubaker and Brent Rambler, bassist/backing vocalist Dustin Davidson and drummer Matt Greiner) undertaking several headlining tours in support of their 2009 album ‘Constellations’, which provided the opportunity for the band to put together their first C.D./D.V.D. package last year in the form of ‘Home’.
Now returning with their fourth full-length effort ‘Leveler’, August Burns Red prove they have no interest in rehashing a proven formula, with their latest album showcasing a broadening of sound beyond their trademark metalcore sound, and a depth of musicianship that eclipses anything heard on their three studio efforts to date.
The opening track ‘Empire’ sees August Burns Red determined to bludgeon the listener into submission right off the bat with the songs savage guitar work, Griener’s dominant drum work and Luhrs’ own passionate screamed vocals and guttural growls. But while there’s no questioning the song’s heavy nature, the injection of melody around the middle and the gang vocals towards the tail end offer the listener more than just straight ahead aggression, and breaks from what could have been just another predictable starting point for the album.
‘Internal Cannon’ (The first song to be given the promotional video clip treatment) is an interesting follow up track, with the band incorporating some Latin flavoured guitar work in the vein of Between The Buried And Me to spice the song writing up, while on ‘Carpe Diem’, the use of slower tempos and sparse atmospheric slide guitar work showcase the band’s willingness to experiment beyond the preconceived parameters of the typical metalcore genre.
Elsewhere, the use of spoken word and gang vocal passages within ‘Salt & Light’ is one of the true stand out cuts on the album and allows the band to present a different side of themselves to listeners.
But outside of the more experimental efforts, what really makes ‘Leveler’ stand out against ‘Constellations’ is its crushing heaviness and refined musicianship. Tracks such as ‘Boys Of Fall’ (Which is preceded by the brief instrumental piece ‘1/16/2011’), the fast paced pairing of ‘Divisions’ and ‘Pangaea’, the dual heaviness and melodic appeal of ‘Poor Millionaire’ and the title track ‘Leveler’ are all impressive demonstrations in technical finesse, as well as standing out as some of the most memorable songs the band have written to date.
‘Constellations’ was an accomplished effort, and definitely the band’s strongest musical statement at the time. But with ‘Leveler’, August Burns Red has managed to outdo themselves, and raise the bar for other acts to follow.

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© Justin Donnelly