Tuesday, June 21, 2011

August Burns Red Unleashes Leveler On The World

August Burns Red made a giant leap to the forefront of their metal core genre with their 2009 release Constellations. That album opened a lot of doors for the band and literally took them places that they had never been before. Two years and countless dates out on the road later and it’s 2011 and the guys are preparing to release the follow-up to that landmark album.

Vocalist Jake Luhrs and the guys could have chosen the safe route and recreated the magic that happened with Constellations, but that just wouldn’t be the August Burns Red that we have come to love. They have pushed the envelope and created another soon to be epic release entitled Leveler.

“Empire” kicks off the new album with an intensity that long time fans of August Burns Red will love. The dueling guitar work of JB Brubaker and Brent Rambler is stellar on this track. Wait, don’t get too comfortable with that because the next track, “Internal Cannon”, is about to take you on an adventure. This is definitely one in which the proverbial envelope is being pushed. Midway through the song, there is a salsa inspired breakdown that will have you shaking your head and wondering if what you just heard actually happened. This is one of the cooler and more original tracks on the album, but it may not be for everyone.

“Carpe Diem” is also a very interesting track, especially surrounding the slide guitar work. “Pangaea” is another great track that shows how Jake is really pushing himself with his screams. It’s one thing to just go out and scream every single word, but when you can do it and put feeling and emotion behind it, then you’re touching on something pretty special. I say hats off to Jake and to producer Jason Suecof for the progression that has been made in that area.

August Burns Red had tried a lot of new things on this album as well as expanding on others. The incorporation of more “gang singing” is a plus as well as using bassist Dustin Davidson more on backing vocals. There are fewer breakdowns on this album as opposed to what we heard on Constellations and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The album, even with all of the changes and experimentation, seems to be a bit heavier to me. It is a bit more reminiscent of the Messengers release in that aspect.

I think the band made a great choice in using producer Jason Suecof again. He is not the type of producer that is going to sit back and watch a bunch of talented guys just go through the motions. He challenges them and pushes them to be better. A major tip of the hat needs to go to drummer Matt Greiner for some of the most intense and chest rattling drumming that he has ever done in this band. I am not sure what motivated or inspired him, but his game on this album was stepped up quite a few notches. Principal songwriter and guitarist JB Brubaker also gets major props for not only his guitar work, but especially the songwriting on here as well.

You have to respect a band like August Burns Red who continually want to push the envelope and grow as a band. There are quite a few new things on this album that, hopefully, the fans will like. It may not be for everyone, but yet I don’t think the hardcore fans will feel alienated. The band will be on the main stage for the entire Vans Warped Tour this summer, so go check them out when they hit your city.

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