August Burns Red has been in the front of the metalcore pack since Messengers, and these Pennsylvanian rockers want it to stay that way. Their latest release, Constellations, will not disappoint in any fashion, but also fails to evolve their sound. In an over saturated market, August Burns Red does their best to stand out. The album is more technical, faster and heavier than any previous effort.
As an August Burns Red fan, I have to say that this album doesn’t disappoint in the slightest, but I can’t help to feel as if I’ve heard it all before. Oh yea, I did, with Messengers. There is something to be said for bands who stick to their sound, and bands who change it up. There is always that risk that, if you change your direction, you will lose fans (see: Escape The Fate), but, if your music is almost monotonous to listen through on one album…why add 12 more songs? As I said, I’m a fan, but listening to Messengers in its entirety got repetitive after a few songs. August Burns Red needed to do something else to hook me in for the rest of the album. They dipped their toes into the choppy waters of change, but were to afraid to take the plunge.
Songs like “The Marianas Trench”, “Meridian” and “Indonesia” (Feat. Tommy Rodgers of Between the Buried and Me) are exactly what I wanted from them. Adding in sprinkles of clean-ish vocals or slow-tempo songs, like “Meridian”, really break up the album, giving you the chance to relax before the next onslaught of double bass and chuggage. They have the musical talent, fan-base and ability to take their music to the next step, but instead, chose to stick to their (successful) formula of monotonous guitar work and pulsating drumming. August Burns Red has a lot of potential, they just need to take the next step.
Ok, with that out of the way, there is no denying that these guys have stepped it up. The guitar work, drums, vocals…all of it stronger than before. The guitar work envy’s Between The Buried and Me, and Protest The Hero, jumping from quick release breakdowns to fast fingering throughout. The guitar work is much more technical and breakdowns only make an appearance when absolutely necessary, instead of holding entire songs together as before. Vocalist Jake Luhrs also progresses, stretching his range in both directions. As you already know, Drummer Matt Greiner takes the spotlight once again. Flawless complex, heart-pounding drumming fills the entire record, sometimes even overpowering the quieter songs.
Constellations doesn’t get tedious as quickly as Messengers does. ‘Marianas Trench’ is a constantly changing Goliath, personifying everything that August Burns Red has the potential to be. The 6-minute, epic ‘Meridian’ is where the boys really step out of their shoes, producing their most unique, and intense song to date. We can’t forget Tommy Rogers mark on ‘Indonesia’, which only makes me long for more clean vocals in ABR songs. Songs such as ‘Thirty and Seven’, ‘Rationalist’ and ‘The Escape Artist’ are sore spots on the album, showing where the band fail to make any sort of progression.
August Burns Red has progressed immensely as individual musicians, but, in order to fulfill their full potential as a band, have some work to do. Constellations is, by far, the strongest and most enjoyable release form the band to date. They are still ahead of the metalcore pack, doing things just a bid differently than everyone else, and creating some awesome music in the process.