Review Summary: August Burns Red is back with more of the same, while drawing in sounds from some familiar sources. However, not all is well here, as Leveler produces very mixed results.
What happens when a band releases an album and continue releasing the same album while attempting to make it better upon each release? It gets old; Very very old. Much like other bands in the metalcore and post-hardcore scene, there is little to no growth of their sound. It's just minor things added on each release which end up not satisfying as much as they could because of the insentient recycling of ideas from release to release. And then there's the ever controversial breakdowns which are consistently present due to the band's lack of thought and not being able to realize that you can have a spectacular metalcore release without the use of the same generic breakdowns on every release. Indeed, metalcore has come a long way in the past fifteen years, but as of now, it seems that the evolution of the genre has halted completely because of bands like August Burns Red, who are unbelievably popular because of their breakdown usage. One can only hope that eventually this trend dies out and the more talented and under appreciated metalcore bands are finally able to take center stage.
Getting to the point, many of the heavier riffs on this album sound like everything heard on this band's previous records. This makes for one of the most tedious, boring, and unsatisfying listens in recent memory. Upon first listening, I continuously found myself thinking "Have I heard this before somewhere else?" That is never a good sign. Leveler
, while mostly boring, does have its usual supply of interesting material. Songs like "Carpe Diem", show everyone that they do have the ability to step outside of the box they place themselves in. Although, even in that song, it is apparent that the song could be much more. Other gems "Salt & Light", "Internal Cannon" and "Leveler" don't manage to raise the album to the accomplished status of their earlier works. The softer, acoustic parts on the album add a sort of progressive vibe to some of the songs which is a nice touch to certain songs. Bland repetition of riffs and sections of chords being played over and over show how uncreative the band are.
Jake Luhrs, someone that usually makes the highlight reel for the band's other works, finds himself just going through the motions in Leveler
. Compared to his performance on Messengers
, there is a severe lack of emotion throughout on this album. Something new from the band on this specific album is the addition of a bass player. Unfortunately, he is not heard enough so not much is actually being added here.
In 2011, we find an August Burns Red that is losing interest in what they do and it shows in the music in a large way. One of the most promising acts in metalcore is headed down a slippery slope in their career, much like the great Kevin Bacon. And like Bacon, this band is very talented and capable of much more. If only they would give up on metalcore completely and drop this boring, half assed act they continue to put on for us.
Frankly, I no longer find it amusing.