August Burns Red
Leveler


3.0
good

Review

by Adam Thomas STAFF
June 21st, 2011 | 1455 replies | 90,683 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: August Burns Red as August Burns Red in Leveler.

When '80s cross-over bands laid the groundwork for the idea of metalcore it's hard to postulate any scenario in which they would have been able to predict what it has become today. Same thing goes to the bands like Unbroken and Integrity that were among the first to definitively play the style because these days metalcore is a hell of a lot more about the metal than the hardcore. Really the only things that have carried over from the early days are a damning penchant for breakdowns and gang chants. Everything else that makes up modern metalcore is saturated in the decade old run off from Sweden's melodic death metal boom of the 1990s. It's easy to tell that the guitar heroes for most of those who are taking part in the latest installment in the evolution of what is metalcore are your Jesper Stromblads and your Martin Henrikssons. It would be a cop out to blame this all on one band's collective influence, but since Overcast have been around for-freaking-ever and their roots reach into two of the biggest bands to mix Swedish harmonies with American chug to hell with it, we're going with the cop out. This isn't to say that metalcore has ceased to be valid because, even though they were derivative as holy hell, bands like Unearth, Killswitch Engage, Himsa and yes even Overcast have produced some monster works that are more than worth any metalhead's time. August Burns Red also belong in this group as while nothing they've put out has ever been more than the sum of their influences from a creative standpoint when they are firing on all cylinders they pull it off pretty damn well.

Leveler continues the trend of August Burns Red being August Burns Red. The basic frame work hasn't really changed that much here as they still have a 1:1 ratio of semi-technical alternate picked lead runs and open drop tune chug-a-lugs. Little bits and pieces have changed though, such as the choral overdub in “Empire” or the clean Latin-melody bridge in “Internal Cannon”, but since both of these songs open the album the melodic quirks they bring are lost among the album's next ten tracks which play out in a similar fashion to their previous release Constellations, which was just a slightly more palatable version of their first two albums. And that's the biggest problem with Leveler and August Burns Red in general. Regardless of however fun their songs are, after four albums of basically the same shit you can't help but feel like you've heard it all before, be it from them on a previous album or from a scores of other bands that sound exactly like them. Further more, where August Burns Red's earlier albums radiated with a youthful energy that helped make up for their shortcomings, on both Constellations and even more so on Leveler that energy has mostly dissipated. That's not to say that it's completely gone, but in the album's first half there's nothing that really moves. It's all too mechanical. It's not until around the album's half way point with tracks like “Pangea” and “40 Nights” that August Burn Red sound like they are actually enjoying themselves. Luckily the aforementioned tracks and the brilliant “Salt & Light”, with its rapid fire drumming, hook filled melodic guitar runs, and gigantic, heartfelt sing-along of an ending, manage to breathe some life into Leveler but it's not enough to save it.

With Leveler August Burns Red have reached the limitations of the metalcore rule book that they have been glued to ever since their debut. It's obvious that they've tried to spice things up a little bit over their last couple of albums but it's only enough to keep them afloat for so much longer. If August Burns Red continue to pull from what has to be a now close to empty bag of tricks they're set to turn from consistent to cliché.



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user ratings (1202)
Chart.
3.5
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other reviews of this album
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    Jamoose (4)
    A solid progression despite some shortcomings....

    Ally McBeal (2.5)
    August Burns Red is back with more of the same, while drawing in sounds from some familiar...

    Eli EMERITUS (2.5)
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  • Outnumbered (4)
    Still light years ahead of their peers....


Comments:Add a Comment 
RosaParks
June 21st 2011



14829 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

good review posd

Emim
June 21st 2011



26570 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yay good reviews


although I'd neg if I could because fuck the staff

BassDemon333
June 21st 2011



3358 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

LOL Emim

ShinXetsu
June 21st 2011



605 Comments


"And that's the biggest problem with Leveler and August Burns Red in general. Regardless of however fun their songs are, after four albums of basically the same shit you can't help but feel like you've heard it all before, be it from them on a previous album or from a scores of other bands that sound exactly like them. Further more, where August Burns Red's earlier albums radiated with a youthful energy that helped make up for their shortcomings, on both Constellations and even more so on Leveler that energy has mostly dissipated."

Spot on, except I don't entirely agree about Constellations. Great review.

KronosRage
June 21st 2011



367 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Constellations was better, this is still good, Barbarian is still their best song

sspedding
June 21st 2011



4752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

40 Nights absolutely rules.

SatelliteYears
June 21st 2011



190 Comments


Great review...I love them and always will, but you're right. All this has been done before on their previous albums. Still amazing guitar work and drumming here, though.

Curse.
Contributing Reviewer
June 21st 2011



7982 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I agree completely, although I enjoy this a bit more than you. Great review as always Adam.


Pangea by Bells is the best track on here and it is only on the deluxe edition

Xenophanes
Emeritus
June 21st 2011



10592 Comments


yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees

renegadestrings
June 21st 2011



1438 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this review is excellent. i'm still working on the album, but for some reason, the vibe i'm getting from Leveler is similar to the feelings i had for Scurrilous. it's a tad familiar.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2011



7163 Comments


Solid review.

saucy
June 21st 2011



342 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"after four albums of basically the same shit you can't help but feel like you've heard it all before, be it from them on a previous album or from a scores of other bands that sound exactly like them. Further more"

imho, dont fix what isnt broken.

Except it may break very, very soon.

hotshotvegetarian
June 21st 2011



129 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like how half the review isn't about the album being reviewed.

HaydenDyson
June 21st 2011



1019 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Buying this, the new black dahlia murder and hopefully newest stray from the path album today

Athom
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2011



17204 Comments


well sorry if you can't make the connection that it's all a problem of stale ideas.

bloc
June 21st 2011



34730 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Bonus tracks were unnecessary

Digging: Messiah - Choir of Horrors

Apollo
June 21st 2011



10281 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

good review blah blah blah

album rapes

BloodSweatandBeers
June 21st 2011



1005 Comments


good review

Consigliere
June 21st 2011



229 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

BOOOOOOOO !!! Album slays.

hotshotvegetarian
June 21st 2011



129 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I don't think a band needs to reinvent the wheel with every album. You don't have to be Radiohead, just make good music and as it's pointed out in other comments, if it isn't broke don't fix it. More often than not I see metal bands ruin their sound and lose their fans from trying to change things up when their previous work was excellent.



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