Posted by Brian McFarland on 07/14 at 03:21 PM
It’s albums like August Burns Red’s Leveler that remind me that there is still good metalcore out there. The Pennsylvania natives released their fourth album on June 21st. They have released yet another technically sound album with great musicianship, behind Jake Luhrs screaming vocals. In a genre that, more often than not, floods the market with a generic sound, August Burns Red drives hard enough on this album to keep you rocking out the entire time.
The opening song, ‘Empire,’ is an auditory onslaught from the beginning. JB Brubaker and Brent Rambler provide some of the best riffs in metalcore with Matt Greiner’s relentless assault on the kit. It creates an intense opener to the album. This is also my favorite use of gang vocals on the entire record. In the second song, ‘Internal Cannon,’ ABR tries to experiment with a salsa-esque pre-chorus that doesn’t work for me. It is completely out of place and a total mismatch for the other songs and the album as a whole. It didn’t sound bad; it just didn’t sound right.
The next three songs pummel you into submission. From the harsh screams of ‘Divisions,’ to how they break free as Luhrs screams in ‘Cutting The Ties,’ to the rapid fire drums driving ‘Pangea,’ ABR is ruthless. But on ‘Carpe Diem,’ there is a slide guitar bridge that brings the album to a sudden halt. Yet another example of trying something new that didn’t quite work for me.
‘40 Nights’ picks up where Pangea left off, and as Luhrs shouts, it makes you brace for impact. The song is about going for it all everyday of your life because “nothing lasts forever.” This song is a true anthem for ABR’s approach to music. Greiner shows his mastery of the drums in ‘Salt & Light’ with amazing riffs from Brubaker and Rambler. I can imagine myself sweating in the beating sun, tired and singing along, “we sing for you,” with Luhrs as they close their set at a festival.
The very next song, ‘Poor Millionaire,’ sends me right back into the pit. Luhrs screams, “where is the life in the life you live? You are the poor millionaire. Where is the life in the life you live? A lifeless empire, a lifeless heir,” and automatically gets my blood flowing and pumped up. Greiner and Luhrs lead some heavy breakdowns in the closing two songs: ‘Boys Of Fall’ and the title track ‘Leveler.’
ABR have yet again created a sound piece of music with this album. However, the Latin style in ‘Internal Cannon’ and the slow tempo of ‘Carpe Diem’ stand out of place too much in my mind. I appreciate the creative attempt but they definitely lowered the grade for this album. Still, it’s a solid recording. So check the album out. It is $10.95 on amazon.com.
Author: Brian McFarland
Bio: Brian McFarland is a senior print journalist major with a minor in English. He has a passion for all forms of original, creative music. In his spare time he likes to attend shows, play sports, read, and write. He loves the indie scene but still loves music of all genres and sounds. Favorite bands include Brand New, Emery, Thursday, and Blink 182.
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