August Burns Red
Constellations


4.5
superb

Review

by Stan R. Corbett USER (7 Reviews)
July 7th, 2009 | 216 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The very incarnation of what great metalcore is supposed to sound like, Constellations comes dangerously close to being a classic within the genre...

Metalcore is an extremely tough genre to execute well. The current main formula--chugging power chords, intense leads, and frenetic drumming--is not difficult in and of itself, as evidenced by the massive amount of bands in the genre. However, making that formula sound any good is difficult, as evidenced by the massive amount of crappy bands in the genre. But alas, because the scene kids gobble up those br00tal breakdowns like they're the best thing since sliced bread, there will always be an irritating majority of generic, uninspired metalcore bands to feed the voracious appetites of those unfortunately misguided dupes. The truly great bands in metalcore, however, don't follow this dull and lazy path. They know how to work the formula, crafting their sound until it becomes a distinct work of art, infusing it with enough imagination and variety to really showcase the formula and make it the spine-tingling, heart-pounding experience that metalcore should be.

And with Constellations, August Burns Red has become a truly great metalcore band.

ABR's first album, Thrill Seeker had some great moments, but overall there was too much filler for it to really be anything special. Their second album, Messengers was much more consistent, and introduced the reckless-abandon style of drumming that has become an August Burns Red signature. But the overall sound was just a tad stale: a few too many generic breakdowns and not enough variation for it to be truly exceptional. Constellations, on the other hand, hits the sweet spot.

Breakdowns are now much harder to find, but the restraint only makes them that much more delicious when they appear. Whereas the breakdowns on Messengers would have your head bobbing robotically for almost an entire song, they now crash upon you from out of nowhere, with the effect of a raging tsunami on a calm summer's night at the beach. Absolutely breathtaking.

The band also promised us more of a focus on lead guitar for Constellations, and boy did they ever deliver on that. In a complete reversal from Messengers, lead guitar drives the majority of the songs on this album. And not just any lead guitar either: we're talking exceptionally tasteful, technical, and pleasing leads. Metalcore is traditionally mostly riff-based, but this is a perfect example of what results when a band strives for something a little bigger and a little better. The leads on Constellations are just as prominent as the riffs, and in some cases are actually predominant. This was a risk, but it turns out to be a major reward because the lead guitar is consistently excellent. JB and Brent are obviously highly skilled guitarists, and clearly there was lots of time devoted to crafting the leads and melodies to perfection. If the breakdowns are like a roaring tsunami wave, the leads are like a vigorous riptide: a stimulating current that sweeps you swiftly along, confident and powerful.

Another key area of improvement is the musical diversity shown on the album. In several instances, the full metalcore onslaught bleeds into a mellow, chilled-out vibe that adds immensely to the overall flow and ambiance of the record. This also contributes to the dark atmosphere that the album posseses. To continue with the oceanic analogies, the softer, moodier sections of Constellations are like a calm sea in the eye of a vicious hurricane. It's like you're a ship riding through a hurricane, and in the midst of the violence and chaos...there appears a calm. And with that, an enormous amount of tension is added because, while the respite from the violence is appreciated, you still crave it. And you know that eventually, the storm will return. But until then, you hang in delightful suspense.

Criticism is tough on an album as enjoyable as this one. There are some moments of filler, to be certain. A few riffs and rhythms do feel rehashed over the course of the record. But the truth is, August Burns Red has stepped up their game so dramatically on this album that even the filler material and the moments of repetition are excellent: these moments are only noticeably sub-par because the rest of the album is filled with superb and even classic moments. As a whole, the album achieves exactly what the band wanted to do: use Messengers as a basis, and then improve it dramatically in every single aspect.

With Constellations, August Burns Red has not only created their magnum opus, but also have joined an elite group of fellow metalcore bands in setting a standard for the rest of their genre. If they continue upon the trail blazed by this album, their next record will be a metalcore classic.



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user ratings (2192)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
ScorpionStan
July 7th 2009


1834 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

alright where's my free pos, Davey? ; )

ScorpionStan
July 7th 2009


1834 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

And i realize that i didn't go into detail on any of the indidvidual songs. This was intentional. Caleb's review did that some, but i wanted mine to encompass the vibe of the album as a whole.

ScorpionStan
July 7th 2009


1834 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

haha well thanks, i guess. i s'pose i'll reciprocate, because your review pisses me off lol

and what would you define as the basic formula? that seemed pretty accurate to me.

ScorpionStan
July 7th 2009


1834 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

true. i was talking more about the basic formula of CURRENT metalcore, since this is very much a current metalcore album. i mean the way i see it, metalcore has for better or worse evolved past the bands you mentioned into the formula i mentioned. and my point is that this album embodies the current style of metalcore done right.

ScorpionStan
July 7th 2009


1834 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks man...but you can't be serious! the awesomeness of this album is evident to all! lol

bloc
July 7th 2009


35010 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

wow is it really a 4.5? i'm kinda excited to hear this now.

Digging: The Birthday Massacre - Superstition

ScorpionStan
July 7th 2009


1834 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah Bloc, judging from how highly rated you have Colors, Controller, and An Ocean Between Us, you'll love this.

And Redd: is doing something that's already been done a bad thing if it's done extremely well? i think not.

sspedding
July 7th 2009


4780 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i think there is an attitude that if a band isnt Converge and is playing metalcore then it is obviously shite.

Digging: Devil Sold His Soul - Belong ? Betray

ScorpionStan
July 7th 2009


1834 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

but this is better than Controller Redd.

and yeah sspedding that does seem to be rather prevalent.

Piglet
July 7th 2009


4663 Comments


been waiting for this delicious apple pie for a while, and so has Zeus... it is a very very nice pie, the choice of pasty (words) were very... exquisite but strange for a review. Meh, your my friend and even if you wern't i would've pos'd this. So anyways, scorp, keep on cooking

ScorpionStan
July 7th 2009


1834 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Redd i do get around...i just now said that i genuinely think this album is much better than Controller, which is the main one you compare it to. And yes the pioneers of metalcore may be better, but they don't play the same brand of metalcore as ABR. So i don't think this album should be judged on that level...it should be judged on where metalcore is at right now.

and pig...thanks very much! but your pos isn't showing up : (

Piglet
July 7th 2009


4663 Comments


sorry, haven't bothered yet lol

Piglet
July 7th 2009


4663 Comments


You should of saved that as some kind of sound off.

oh well, what a waste of material.

btbdrum812
July 7th 2009


21 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I find it funny how everyone always says "I need to give this a low rating to balance out the fanboys". Yes, I am a fanboy of ABR, but my rating reflects my actual enjoyment of the album. Most people who rate this album low do it just out of spite which is retarded. Kinda hypocritical. One side rates it high because they love the band, the other rates it low because its cool to not love them

leemo
July 7th 2009


3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yes that's a logical explanation Reddannihilation, give it a rest lad.

On a more serious note, the album is fantastic by the way!


btbdrum812
July 7th 2009


21 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Correction again, you call me an idiot because you have no actual basis of giving it a low rating. Therefore you resort to calling people names like my three year old niece. Awesome. Two thumbs up champ!

btbdrum812
July 7th 2009


21 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I did read your review, and honestly it sounded like you don't like them because they aren't the other thirty bands you compared them to. It was basically a review of how ABR sounds like or not like other bands.

Piglet
July 7th 2009


4663 Comments


Dude, don't go on critisizing people like that with completely baseless opinions.
Reddannihilation has a very good reason why he rated 2 stars so respect that.

btbdrum812
July 7th 2009


21 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yes, he does have his own opinion and I have no problem with that. What apparently you both fail to realize is with my first comment I made no attempt whatsoever to point him out. I was talking about a general group of people. I have no problem with is review really, thats why I didn't neg it. I just think its stupid that he doesn't respect people's opinions who do like the album. Thats also why in none of my comments I said anything about his personal rating.

btbdrum812
July 7th 2009


21 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

And to Redd, what I meant was in every paragraph except the last, you mention some other band and compare ABR to them. It was an exaggeration. I swear people have the shortest tempers on sputnik.



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