Review Summary: The perfect month to post an August Burns Red album review.
Metalcore isn't quite as relevant as it used to be, it's a sub-genre that faces much scepticism and also much praise, from fans and critics alike. Popular forerunners As I Lay Dying and Unearth, along with August Burns Red, keep this sub-genre alive and kicking. On June 2011, August Burns Red returned with their fourth studio album entitled Leveler, and if you loved their previous album Constellations, this album will impress you nonetheless. First thing you notice about this album is, it still has the same formula and signature stamp which is found on previous ABR releases. The band's sound hasn't really changed at all except for a few changes, most notably on 'Internal Cannon'. When you listen to this track, you can instantly hear the middle-eastern flavour spewing out of it. In terms of song-writing and musicianship, the band have progressed considerably while staying true to their roots. Jake Luhr's vocals have improved vastly on this album compared to Constellations. His vocal range has grown much wider and it really shines through on tracks such as the stunning title track and the crushing 'Divisions'.
Breakdowns have always been a distinctive staple in the band's sound and they pull them off better than most other metalcore bands. A perfect example would be the climax of '40 Nights', a jaw-dropping breakdown which reminds you why you listened to the band in the first place. In terms of lyrics, noticable appreciation for the fans is present. During the climax of 'Salt and Light', Jake belts out "We sing for you", which will most certainly be a fan sing-along at live shows. Other gripping lyrics include that of the title track:
“The victim in me is dead. I am reborn. So even though you call me self-righteous and call my beloved treacherous, there is one thing to take away. Leveler, make level the road for the righteous. I forgive you, queen of hearts, for through me, He will show you true love.”
Out of the twelve tracks present on this album, the pace is quite relentless and frantic. Tenth track '1-16-2011', gives you time to breathe while softer moments in 'Salt and Light' and 'Internal Cannon', also repeat this. JB Brubaker's guitar abilities have also improved greatly, most notably on 'Cutting the Ties' and keeping the pace with Matt Greiner’s thunderous drum work. Matt's drumming on this album is tight and used with utmost precision, he really does carry the band with his impeccable drumming. Bassist Dustin Davidson really shines through on 'Carpe Diem', with a short bass interlude which keeps the listener's interest. The track itself is the longest track on the album, clocking in at 5:37. Its also the most experimental track they've recorded to date which might put some fans off but please others. Every band member here is very talented and their chemistry comes through on the album. One thing the songs lack in particular is variety, and their ability to differ from each other significantly. Although this doesn't affect the overall feel of the album, the album could of benefitted from it.
August Burns Red have once again delivered a strong and consistent album. They have greatly progressed since Constellations and have earned their place as one of the defining metalcore bands. Fans won't be disappointed, and for people who are wanting to step out of their comfort zone, this may well be the band for you.