Reviews August Burns Red Leveler

August Burns Red

Leveler

August Burns Red have become the face of American metal over the last few years with their unique brand of metalcore, but Leveler is poised to redefine the genre all together. Tactically bending genres with ease, they’ve crafted a truly ambitious album of unparalleled diversity and precision.

Constellations, ABR’s last release, had shown a tremendous amount of growth with a more diverse, structured sound. Leveler expands on that in a major way, managing to broaden an already diverse sound to extent that has to be heard to be believed. Not only is Leveler more diverse, it’s done in seamless fashion; blasting through metal and hardcore subgenres in an almost careless manner. Where Constellations was generally a metalcore album and rarely strayed from that sound, Leveler throws caution to the wind, mixing in influences from all over the spectrum. "Internal Cannon" is a perfect example of this, starting off with your usual mix of blistering guitar noodling and off beat breakdowns but takes a turn into left field with a Latin influenced acoustic bridge. These odd moments arrive when you least expect them and add an interesting dynamic to the album.

August Burns Red also displays a new found interest in melodies often blurring the lines between metal and post hardcore. This isn’t done in the same way many of their peers have chosen with cheesy clean sung chorus’s meant to catch new listeners, instead their melodies help carry the songs when they begin to drag rather than relying on breakdowns. This couldn’t be more evident than on the first single "Empire," which contains a lengthy pop punk esq sing-along.

As great as this album may be, there are a few unsettling moments worth mentioning. By the sounds of it, a heavy tour schedule is beginning to wear on Jake Luhrs voice. It’s possible they decided to simply use less production on his vocals this time around but a lot of power seems to be missing in his delivery and when reaching for those higher screams his voice cracks quite a bit. Also since the departure of vocalist Josh McManness, the lyrical approach has been very bland and that hasn’t changed with Leveler.

With that said, its clear Leveler is a masterpiece of modern metalcore and another momentous step in the progression of August Burns Red. It’s an ambitious album and possibly a bit daunting for new listeners but will surely become a staple of the metalcore genre.

9.0 / 10Chad Raynard
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