Review Summary: Looks Fragile After All is a very below-average album that’s only purpose is to show us how far August Burns Red has come…
Since August Burns Red formed in 2004, the band has had its ups and downs. Spreading their name to a broader metalcore fan base by signing to Solid State, Thrill Seeker was well received. Recording Messengers two years later with a new vocalist brought disappointment to many of their fans, who knew what they were capable of and expected more...The recently released Constellations has gone down really well; and august burns red has shown very nice improvements from their previous record...considering the constant and never ending enjoyment I received from Constellations, while thinking about the ups and downs the band had been through, I thought I’d go back to their roots and listen to the original music that got them signed to Solid State and ultimately accepted by a wide team of metalcore fans.
Before they became popular in the metalcore/hardcore scene, they released a five song EP called Looks Fragile After All on CI Records. Being a huge fan of the current August Burns Red, I got the relatively unknown EP and listened to it with eager ears.
I have to say while there are some good points to Looks Fragile After All, I was disappointed. I kept thinking of excuses to defend the band from the noticeable flaws of the album. The only excuse that really works for the CD is that it was their debut, and the band was very young and inexperienced. Still, the band on Looks Fragile is almost completely different to the modern August Burns Red, and this is the perfect example of an album from a very young band coming out of high school who had very little experience.
I’ll start with the points I thought were decent on the album; the songwriting. This is something August Burns Red has always been good at, even when they were this young. The lyrics are, obviously, Christian, but in a way that is not to preachy…It is even original and different from other bands that are talented at this (Oh, Sleeper, A Thousand Times Repent, Impending Doom). When you read it, you know its Christian, but not in a way that will make you want to avoid the album.
The second track on Looks Fragile is also a plus. Missing The Opportunity is by far musically, and compositionally the best on the EP. It has great opening drum work (nothing insanely flashy but good for a debut) and is very nicely put together.
The rest of the songs seem rushed and very bashed off, and this is where I get into my negatives.
Typically, in most metal (good metal anyway) there is flashy guitar work. The guitar work on this EP is average at best. There are some cool sounding riffs but every song has a pretty slow, sluggish tempo, which makes the guitars sound very unimpressive. Again, this is probably pretty typical in young bands, but it is extremely noticeable on this record. I was super surprised at how far the current August Burns Red has evolved as far as their guitar work is concerned.
August Burns Red have had three vocalists in their five years of being a band. Before I lecture their first vocalist (the one on this album) I have to give him credit for coming up with the name August Burns Red and the cool story that goes with the name. Apparently, he was dating somebody at the time who turned out to be mentally unstable. Her name was August and when he backed out of the relationship, she was so pissed off she burnt his dog, whose name was Red. I guess he shouldn’t really get credit for that, but it’s a pretty cool story…
But as far as his talent is concerned, his voice is VERY mediocre. Probably below mediocre actually. He has a very small range, if any at all, and sounds like Kermit the Frog after he’s been kicked in the stomach. There is also frequent talking on the album, which is pretty common with metalcore (um, War of Ages) and though it is annoying most of the time, there are times it sounds pretty cool. Problem with the vocals on Looks Fragile After All, the talking comes in at the worst times, and is very poorly done; to the point where it’s almost painful to listen to. It’s not even laughable, really…it is no surprise that they found a replacement when they got to Solid State.
In conclusion, August Burns Red has an EP here that marks how much they have improved from this album to their current album Constellations. Looks Fragile After All tries to save itself with good songwriting and Missing the Opportunity, but fails with the weak guitar work and average vocals. I still love the band, but this is the first time I’ve ever been slightly disappointed by the band…either way, ABR is still awesome! (The present one, that is :P)