August Burns Red – Leveler


Album

Leveler

Label

Solid State

Year

2011

Genre

For Fans Of

Parkway Drive - Unearth - Misery Signals

Summary

Taking their place at the top of the metalcore pecking order

Rating

80 / 100

Whether you employ a purely casual overview or rather a deep-thinking analysis, one thing starkly emerges from heavy music in 2011. That is, we are seeing the gap become greater and the difference between the good bands, the so-so bands and the overrated outfits more obvious. Essentially, as listeners, we are seeing which artists are deserving of their praise and which bands have been afforded unjustified acclaim for far too long.

The Black Dahlia Murder, Protest the Hero and the like are turning out career-best material and taking their sounds to new heights. While, groups like Asking Alexandria and Emmure are stuck in the shallow confines of a dead-end sound. Thankfully, we can add August Burns Red to the first category. The band is ensuring metalcore has a beating pulse and equally showing the sub-genre is still capable of producing more than a few easy thrills.

Fourth studio album ‘Leveler‘ is trademark ABR. To be perfectly honest there’s not a lot new that is brought to the table here but instead the signature sound is more refined, evolved and consistent. From the acoustic, almost-latin, brief instrumental passage early in ‘Internal Canon‘ to the melodic passages in ‘Cutting the Ties‘ the listener is presented with a contrasting range.

Leveler‘ effortlessly highlights why metalcore was an attractive genre to begin with. This is twelve tracks that doesn’t differ much (if at all) from ABR‘s previous offerings yet the music seems so much more solid and polished than any of its predecessors. There are some strong metal moments explored and the group’s hardcore backbeat gets its moment too. Yeah, it’s a standard sound in many respects, but it’s ABR‘s sound. One that is immediately distinguishable and evidently sincere.

You get the feeling guitarists Brent Rambler and JB Brubaker are like kids before christmas when it comes time to record a new album. They seem to revel and enjoy the process and ability to share, compare and bounce impressive and thoughtful riffs of one another.

Pangaea‘, ‘Salt & Light‘ and ‘Poor Millionaire‘ are the cream of the crop. The music is loud, aggressive and moving but totally devoid of that contrived ‘tough guy’ persona. The general blueprint seems to be guided by steady guitars riffs and a constant rhythmic pulse, with musical moments shifting between the heavy and melodic.

Essentially, ‘Leveler‘ shows that if you apply enough effort, keep an open mind and stick to the processes that served you well in the first place then success is a natural by-product. This studio release just feels very comfortable and assured. It’s not over complicated, just as it doesn’t pander to any trends. We might not be uttering this as groundbreaking but we can still assert ‘Leveler‘ as an impressive snapshot of where August Burns Red currently ranks.

Conclusion

The fact that metalcore receives a mixed bag response at the best of times should not detract from the fact that ‘Leveler’ is a bright point of 2011. Perhaps in a slightly strict manner of speaking, this sound still has a little way to go and some small improvements to be made but let’s just enjoy what’s delivered here. August Burns Red continue to strengthen their respectability and might just drag a few new fans along for the ride too.

Tracklisting

1. Empire
2. Internal Cannon
3. Divisions
4. Cutting the Ties
5. Pangaea
6. Carpe Diem
7. 40 Nights
8. Salt & Light
9. Poor Millionaire
10. 1/16/2011
11. Boys of Fall
12. Leveler

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