August Burns Red
Leveler


4.0
excellent

Review

by Jamoose USER (6 Reviews)
July 20th, 2011 | 31 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A solid progression despite some shortcomings.

August Burns Red have always been a metal band at heart that are willing to stretch themselves outside the enclosed meat-grinder of chug-chug “core” riffs and breakdowns. Thrill Seeker and Messengers established a signature sound of technical riffs, progressing song-structures, dynamic tempo changes, polyrhythmic drum patterns and lyrics of passion rather than hostility. However, there was still the case that the band weren’t breaking out of the metalcore cell, even if they had the ability to keep the genre fresh. Constellations proved a promising succession for the band. It proved they were willing to open themselves to new directions and wider influences, making it their most diverse and progressive album yet. Now, we come to Leveler, another promising step forward for the band, but I do still say “promising” for a reason.

There’s the progressive side to the band that’s tasteful and essential. Take the crowd-singing section in “Empire” reminiscent of 30 Seconds To Mars. Don’t think that this is a bad thing; it feels entirely necessary to the song’s uplifting tone and lyrics about the power of creativity. “Carpe Diem”, my personal recommendation, slows the album down with haunting vocals and memorable lead guitar lines, as the song cites a conversation between ambition and futility, courtesy of Jake Luhrs and now more involved Dustin Davidson. There’s also a great clean section in “Salt and Light”, tuneful enough to be a love song, but yet again it feels necessary and works well with the piece.

However, there is the progressive side to August Burns Red that feels courageous yet somewhat unnecessary. “Internal Cannon” is noticeably their most risky attempt at delving into other genres with some clean salsa style instrumentation. The song introduces as a standard hard-hitting thrash fest and continues so in small sections after the abrupt shift in style. This is ultimately what makes it feel out of place. It’s as if the band wanted to throw a completely out-there idea to the song without justification and without satisfying completion, like they weren’t being risky enough with it. “Carpe Diem” showed a fearless consistency in their song writing, and that is what this track unfortunately lacks.

That’s not to say that the album is focused entirely on being progressive. August Burns Red know how to write a good metal track and their song structures have shown improvement. “Pangea” and “Divisions" are brilliantly constructed songs, that keep steady breakneck paces without feeling overloaded or repetitive. This is what they should be embracing more in their song-writing, rather than adding ambitious shifts to keep things interesting.

What has showed vast improvement among other things is the overall musicianship. JB Brubaker and Brent Rambler have upped their games lead-wise, pumping out solos and licks left and right yet keeping it tasteful. Dustin Davidson stands out alot more providing rumbling bass lines and even some on the soft side as in "Salt and Light". Matt Greiner as usual has remained one of my most prolific drummers, always showing new kinds of grooves and creative fills. Jake Luhrs, who had improved considerably in his clarity and range on Constellations has improved double that on Leveler. He keeps a clear sound while performing low powerful growls such as in “Divisions” to extreme highs such as in the title track “Leveler”.

Overall this is an excellent album from the Pennsylvania quintet and a real sign of things to come in the future. The band is finding new ways to improve their sound and despite some slip-ups, it's a solid effort.



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user ratings (1213)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • maidenpmcc (4)
    The perfect month to post an August Burns Red album review....

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

    Adam Thomas STAFF (3)
    August Burns Red as August Burns Red in Leveler....

    Eli EMERITUS (2.5)
    In which consistency gives way to stagnation, with "Leveler" being a stale, forgettable, a...

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


Comments:Add a Comment 
botb
July 20th 2011


9689 Comments


very good review for your first one. welcome.

bowlofsoup
July 20th 2011


1073 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good first review. Don't remember who made a list about it, but this shouldn't have a lower average than messengers.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 20th 2011


31218 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

But it's a terrible album

Digging: LV and Joshua Idehen - Islands

bowlofsoup
July 20th 2011


1073 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Messengers isn't as good, even if you hate this

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 20th 2011


31218 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

I like Messengers

Pyosisified
July 20th 2011


2450 Comments


messengers is really bad

Tyrael
July 20th 2011


20883 Comments


Messengers isn't as good, even if you hate this

Errrr... No?

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

bowlofsoup
July 20th 2011


1073 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Messengers bores me. Oh well

SeaAnemone
July 20th 2011


20374 Comments


I mean it's all ABR sooooooooo... yeeeaahhhh...

Digging: Holy Sons - Lost Decade II

Pyosisified
July 20th 2011


2450 Comments


agreed

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
July 20th 2011


21967 Comments


this < Constellations

haven't heard Messengers

"this shouldn't have a lower average than messengers."
your rating is dragging this album's average rating down

Dismantle
July 20th 2011


398 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

@review
um no

AfterTheBreakdown
July 20th 2011


7147 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Very good review. Pos'd.

UnnamedOcean
July 20th 2011


3966 Comments


Good review. But oh man do I disagree with the opinions. I find the progressive parts to be incredibly tasteless and unoriginal. A pretty obvious attempt to cash in on the BTBAM gimmick.

Jamoose
July 20th 2011


4 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hey guys. Thanks for the great comments! This was my first proper attempt at a music review and am trying to get some practice. So I hope to write more pretty soon.

bowlofsoup
July 20th 2011


1073 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@ AnarchistFish
I just meant that this is better in relation to messengers. I gave that album a 2.5

someguest
July 20th 2011


20678 Comments


This album is their weakest - if that means anything.

Digging: Aphex Twin - Syro

bowlofsoup
July 20th 2011


1073 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Their latest two are actually the only ones I enjoy. The rest of their stuff bores me to death.

someguest
July 20th 2011


20678 Comments


The lyrics and production are a lot better on Messengers than on here.

AfterTheBreakdown
July 20th 2011


7147 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Constellation will always be their best work.



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