August Burns Red

Leveler

01. Empire
02. Internal Cannon
03. Divisions
04. Cutting the Ties
05. Pangaea
06. Carpe Diem
07. 40 Nights
08. Salt and Light
09. Poor Millionaire
10. 1-16-2011
11. Boys of Fall
12. Leveler

[06/21/11]
[Solid State Records]

No matter which side of the breakdown argument you fall on, August Burns Red arguably bring more to the table than most run of the mill ‘–core’ bands. However, when a band’s popularity climbs to such a great height in such a small span of time, loyal fans begin to have concerns about the direction that new material will take. In this case, fans of the technical metalcore delivered by this five-piece Pennsylvanian band have nothing to worry about.

For fans of the band, it will not take long to find that Leveler, the band’s fourth offering, draws heavily from their previous releases. There is no lack of Matt Greiner’s signature drumming or the technical breakdowns that fans expect. In fact, the breakdowns are quite plentiful and are very reminiscent of 2007’s Messengers.

Thankfully, the metalcore bits are interspersed throughout with interludes in which the band proceed to stretch their fingers a bit. Parts like the delightful samba section in “Internal Cannon,” and the lovely slide guitar in the midst of “Carpe Diem” help to showcase the band’s creativity and skill. In this regard, the album really shines.

Generally, the riffs on the album are entertaining and at no point did I find myself wishing that they would get on with the rest of the song. However, apart from tracks 4, 5, and 6, the album is tragically missing the infectious hooks, harmonies, and thoughtful transitions of 2009’s Constellations. For the most part, leads are excellent and in some point rather technical, but the composition and mixing focus heavily on the rhythm guitar and drums. This obviously won’t obstruct most fans from enjoying these songs immensely, but in comparison to their previous album, a number of the songs feel rather sterile.

While Jake Luhrs’ vocal performances in Messengers and Constellations have always lived in the shadow of Josh McManness’ Thrill Seeker performance, the vocal tracks in Leveler are definitely noteworthy. Luhrs’ vocal passages are surprisingly diverse and the gang vocals are very tasteful and well placed. While I will leave it to you to determine the quality of these changes for yourself, I think that it is safe to say that Luhrs has finally come into his own on this album.

Overall, Leveler is a very solid album that incorporates a great deal of classic August Burns Red with a good measure of new maturity and experimentation. For fans of the band or genre, this step forward is quite minute compared to the progress of the band’s three previous albums, but the album is still of the utmost quality and is very enjoyable. For those who already tend to dislike the genre, this album most likely does not incorporate enough new material to justify a purchase.

August Burns Red – Leveler gets…

3.5/5

– CM

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