Posted July 09, 2011
August Burns Red is a little band from Manheim, PA who stormed onto the scene in 2005 with the brutal Thrill Seeker. Since then they acquired vocalist Jake Luhrs to replace Josh McMannes in 2006. They then released the mind-blowing Messengers in 2007, and the technical Constellations in 2009. Now they have made a somewhat triumphant return with Leveler. Here is a track-by-track breakdown (pun intended) of the album:
Empire: 10/10 - Everything you need from ABR: Explosive breakdowns, crushing drums courtesy of Matt Greiner, and technical riffs. The gang vocal section is amazing and fits in well. Jake's range has greatly improved, too.
Internal Cannon: 9/10 - This one has one of the best breakdowns on the album. Also the best guitar line by JB in this song. I gave it a 9 because of the weird Mariachi sections.
Divisions: 7/10 - The first half of this song is insane: Jake goes all over the place vocally, and is his best performance. Drumming is brutally fast, and the breakdown destroys everything. The second half is one long chord progression and drum pattern, and is a bit boring.
Cutting the Ties: 8/10 - This song has the best intro I've heard since "Truth of A Liar". The middle has some good sections, but kind of uninteresting. It picks up the pace again at the end with a great breakdown that saves the song.
Pangaea: 8/10 - This song showcases the technical abilities of guitarist JB Brubaker. Incredible solo that reminds me of the solo in Emery's "I'm Not Here For Rage..." which JB also performed. Great overall song.
Carpe Diem: 5/10 - The only good thing about this song is the argument vocals between Jake and bassist Dustin. Other than that it's 90% chord progression and 10% steel guitar. It sounds like a remix of "Meridian" but worse.
40 Nights 9.5/10 - This song pounds you with classic ABR breakdowns, and makes you think Messengers and Constellations had a child. You can hear the lyrical maturity with lyrics like: "You are Goliath standing firm in your light. We are David and you're in our sights."
Salt & Light: 6/10 - The first half of this song sounds decent, and a run-of-the-mill hardcore song. It's enough to keep your interest until it turns slow with spoken word vocals. The ending has some clean vocals that sound a little out of place.
Poor Millionare: 10/10 - The most hard hitting song on the album, both musically and lyrically. It has the most in-your-face lyrics of any ABR song to date. As you get pummeled by the metalcore bliss, Jake delivers the KO punch as he screams "You are the pretender!"
1/16/2011: ?? - Sad story behind this song.
Boys of Fall: 9/10 - This song is a super fast rollercoaster thrillride. It is dedicated to some boys who were killed in Lancaster, PA. I only gave this 9 because it slows down at the end, and that loses my interest.
Leveler: 9.5/10 - The perfect way to end this installment of ABR history. Sweeping guitars, crazy drums, and brutal breakdowns remind us why ABR made it this far. This song deals with forgiving someone who hurt Jake in the past, but he acknowledges God for helping him.
Overall: 9/10 - ABR set the bar so high on the first three albums, that it was almost impossible for this one to beat it, but it was close. Old ABR fans will still have much to love on most songs. This one will tide us over until the next album, and here's hoping the experimenting won't continue.
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