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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Yet
There's something special about August Burns Red (ABR). Thrill Seeker introduced it, Messengers proved it wasn't an anomaly, Constellations hinted at even more and Leveler showcases it for everyone to hear. Their fourth full-length proves that ABR still have room for expansive, heartfelt innovation and creativity. Leveler doesn't reinvent the wheel - there are no...
Published on June 22, 2011 by A. Kohler

versus
6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just not the same
This is not the same band that wrote constellations and messengers. I respect that they tried to give this album a different flow, incorporating acoustic spanish-like guitar work and unexpected breaks, but in my opinion it just doesn't suite the band. Some of the vocal work is different as well, bringing a high-pitch scream more often than in their previous work. The only...
Published on June 24, 2011 by Brandon Coyle


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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Yet, June 22, 2011
This review is from: Leveler (Audio CD)
There's something special about August Burns Red (ABR). Thrill Seeker introduced it, Messengers proved it wasn't an anomaly, Constellations hinted at even more and Leveler showcases it for everyone to hear. Their fourth full-length proves that ABR still have room for expansive, heartfelt innovation and creativity. Leveler doesn't reinvent the wheel - there are no auto-tuned lead vocals or emo ballads or anything vastly different from the abrasive metalcore of the past three albums. But there is a palatable sense of maturity and growth in the songwriting as well as the overall sound of Leveler.

Constellations hinted at the maturity and growth in songs like `Marianas Trench,' `White Washed,' `Indonesia,' and `Meridian.' They weren't vastly different but they were different - a good thing. You still had the relentless fervor of past albums in songs like `Rationalist,' `Thirty and Seven,' and `Existence' on Constellations - also a good thing. But there were more obvious variations in song writing than ever before.

Leveler takes the variation and growth to a new level. `Empire' starts the album off with the familiar onslaught of constant force before it dissolves into a beautiful change of pace that peaks with (GASP!) actual singing (it's just gang vocals singing `ohh, ohhh, oohhhh') before delving back into an onslaught that mirrors the start of the song. It could be the best song the band has written. It is (personally) the most moving song they've written. `Internal Cannon' has a different kind of breakdown than what we are used to. `Divisions' kills it like you would expect. `Cutting Ties' opens with one of the coolest riffs I've heard from the band and sounds like it could have been on Constellations. And that's just the first four songs.

Other songs like `Carpe Diem,' `Pangaea' and `Salt & Light` aren't your normal fare either. But Leveler isn't like switching from whole milk to skim milk. There's enough of what you would expect from ABR on this album with songs like `Leveler' and `Poor Millionaire' to keep the band rooted in their trademark sound. The entire album is full of little twists and turns that (should) make the familiar ABR listener smile with pride and pleasure because the band released a unique new album and not Messengers pt 2 or more Constellations or another Thrill Seeker. (Although deep inside I have to admit Thrill Seeker pt 2 would be AWESOME.)

I know this to be true because I used to be `that guy' that wished every band `sounded like they did on _____.' But then I grew up - trust me - no one wants to hear a band put out the same album over and over. You try that and you end up sounding like Weezer - you try to sound like you used to but it ain't the same, no matter how hard you try. It's tough to admit, especially when you love an album so much (Pinkerton?). We all bemoan and wail when our favorite bands sounds `different' or `changes things up' or `experiments.' We long for Saves the Day to go back to the `Through Being Cool' sound or for the Get Up Kids to go back to the `Four Minute Mile' sound or for Cave in to make another metal album. Give it a rest. We're all growing up and so are the dudes in these bands. Some of the best albums by those aforementioned bands (Stay What You Are and Jupiter, respectively) would have never happened if the band didn't `change.' Instead we'd be stuck with rehashes and pale imitations.

Having said all that, August Burns Red hasn't radically changed. They've matured, they've grown and thankfully it shows in the continued progression of their music. Very few bands get better from album to album but ABR has with every release. A band is allowed a dud every now and then, but if a band isn't consistently getting better, then what's the point? If we aren't consistently growing and maturing as people, then what's the point?

August Burns Red has done it again. They have made another phenomenal album and they have, yet again, set the standard by which their peers will be measured.

* The bonus tracks are cool. The Bells track is great, the MIDI version of Empire is neat. The others are nice as add ons. Is it worth an extra $2 for 4 tracks? Probably.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vinyl Edition, June 24, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Leveler (Vinyl)
Obviously, it's ABR, so the music is great.

I'm writing to mention some things about the vinyl edition. It is 2 LPs and the LPs are clear. A nice sturdy card with a digital download card is included with the vinyl edition. There is also a glossy lyric insert. The gatefold is a very nice exhibition of the album art.

If you have a turntable, pay a bit more for the vinyl edition - it's a great set all around.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At the Risk of Being Unpopular, Going Against the Grain, June 22, 2011
This review is from: Leveler (Audio CD)
First of all and most importantly, this is a really good album, with tons of excellent ideas! Most of these ideas work incredibly and make August Burns Red so much better than all their solid state peers. The technicality on this release is unparalleled by other ABR releases and every member of the band had to step their games up to pull off these songs. Everything you know and love about ABR is still here, just amped up a little and more experimental with riffs. They use many major keys and major scales to sound different than most metalcore bands. The sound is a band going against the grain, but staying true to their roots. Now the detractors for this album for me, are a couple of things. The vocals are everything you've already heard from ABR, and I know it sounds lame, but they need to sing sometimes!!! Some of these songs already sound happy because of the major keys. They are screaming for a counter melody and the hardcore approach, while awesome, is getting dated. The second is that they should really try to slow down a little, and let their amazing chops speak for themselves. Constellations was great because the band wasn't afraid to be a little simpler, so songs were more memorable. These songs dazzle and amaze, but can be so complicated that one needs several listens to be able to retain the song. These are small complaints and don't make Leveler any less levelling. August Burns Red have hit a solid stride, and Leveler is an excellent entry in their growing super discography.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Justice fighters with faces of fire!, June 21, 2011
This review is from: Leveler (Audio CD)
Pre-ordered this album through ABR's vendor, with the added bonus of an album specific T-shirt. To my surprise, I received it a day before the actual release date. Right off the bat I could tell that ABR has been busy trying new things and looking for tweaks to enhance their sound. Of particular note, they've gone away from multiple breakdowns per song and have worked with adding slower, melodic passages to contrast with the inevitable sledgehammer of sound that will again hit you in the chops to finish off the song. Don't worry, there are still some breakdowns but they are much more satisfying in fewer numbers, trust me. The depth and breadth of ABR's sound is ever-expanding on this album. Jake is using more range all while still screaming and growling with his usual passion and conviction. Guitars and drums have all been jacked up a notch for this new album... faster, louder, more complex -- all better than ever before. This album demonstrates a more intentional and mature level of songwriting and you can tell. Songs like Internal Cannon and Poor Millionaire are prime examples of their willingness to up the ante and maybe even experiment a little with new styles. Leveler will assuredly be a great chapter in the careers of these guys and will likely get to 100k copies sold. Whether you are a new fan or an old die-hard, this album will impress. Sampling the tracks will NOT give you a good idea of the awesomeness within, you just need to buy it!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars bridging the gap between messengers and constellations, June 21, 2011
By 
Gnarlo (Denver, CO) - See all my reviews
finally! they're back with the same hard hitting styles from messengers, but mixed with some of the artistic progression they learned from constellations (minus the abrupt changes that plagued so many of the songs on that album). don't think i need to say much more as i'm sure plenty of other aspiring music critics will openly share their impressions of each song for you. listen to the 30 second clips of each song if you want, but you will not be disappointed in the slightest if you just click the download button.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best thrash/metalcore bands ever, April 3, 2014
This review is from: Leveler (Audio CD)
ABR has been steadily growing on me in the past few years. Before Leveler, I had written them off as another raw band making noise in the industry due to their sheer passion. Promise seemed to be the word of the time. But you can call many bands promising, and ABR was not satisfied. Leveler trumps their previous work, Constellations by quite a bit, making it their best, and most technically sound album. Its difficult to judge a band's talent level, but ABR certainly lets us know that they can shred. And thats why though some call it metalcore, I call their music a blend of core with thrash. Its a lot of fun to listen to the fast-paced guitars mixed with the howls by singer Jake Luhrs.

Empire and Pangaea are my favorites, because they are simply fast tracks with colorful and fun instrumentals. Internal Cannon and Divisions are great as well.
If you are one of those that insist on branding them a "christian group" I offer you this: buy this album, because if all you listen to is christian metal, ABR is the best in the business, instrumentally.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All puns aside, this may be your album of the year. It maintains heaviness without sacrificing beauty., January 9, 2012
This review is from: Leveler (Audio CD)
There is really no way around it. August Burns Red has done it again. Their new album, Leveler, will destroy - level, if you will - anything in its path. After almost a decade and four albums later, August Burns Red has become the band they were always destined to be. From the opening scream of "Skyscrapers, earth movers, ground breakers!" to the ending verse where Luhrs passionately shouts "I forgive you!," this album speaks to every aspect of the human psyche. It is quite clear that August Burns Red is a diverse group who have all survived dramatically different life experiences. This blending of emotions and experiences gives this album a depth that has been severely missed in music as of late.

For those of you who loved Constellations, this is the album for you. After a heavier album in Messengers, the band began to evolve and move past breakdown centric songs. Constellations prominently featured some of music's all time greatest melodies with absolutely beautiful songwriting. Leveler is Constellations` spiritual successor and as such, contains stunning melodies. JB Brubaker has improved greatly when it comes to his guitar work. His range is absolutely incredible. Whether he is keeping pace with Matt Greiner's blistering skin work (which we will touch on later), soloing, or overlaying rhythm guitarist Brent Rambler with melodies that often took my breath away, it is clear that JB knows his way around a guitar.

For those who, like me, who have followed August Burns Red for years, this change in style has been blindingly obvious. In a recent interview JB cited Explosions in the Sky as an inspiration for multiple members of ABR. He claimed that post-rock groups such as Explosions in the Sky can be the invigorating lifeblood that the stagnant and dying metalcore genre needs, if bands will allow themselves to be influenced by something so different from your average heavy band. Those who downloaded August Burns Red's latest Christmas cover, "Little Drummer Boy," saw that ABR was clearly interested in writing post-rock material. "Little Drummer Boy" proved that they not only knew how to write an ambient and atmospheric song, but could do it well and not bore their fans. Now, never fear, this is not a post-rock album. This is August Burns Red's own take on the metalcore genre but with a prominent influence from non-metal music. Sprinkled throughout some of the later songs are gorgeous post-rock sections that meld perfectly with the heavier metalcore elements. These interludes blend into the songs and leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to jump right back into the quicker verses. These sections do not interrupt the flow of the album. In fact, they augment it and help pace the lengthy fifty minute epic that is Leveler.

For those of you whose favorite album in ABR's venerable discography is Messengers and whose favorite parts of Constellations were the breakdowns, hold fast for Leveler is not only a relaxing atmospheric trip, it is also a back-breaking thrill ride. JB said that they would not have named the album Leveler if it wasn't heavy, and after multiple listens I can say with one hundred percent certainty that he is correct. As much as I adore getting lost in a melody, my favorite parts of the album are easily the heaviest. The end of the song "40 Nights" caught me completely by surprise. Luhrs screams, "Goliath, we're calling your name! Goliath, we're coming for you!" A spectacular ending to a heavy song and excellent counterpart to the melodic and methodical "Carpe Diem" that preceded it. Two songs later "Poor Millionaire" had my jaw on the floor. Intense, driven and powerful, this song is full of emotion. Oh, and did I mention it's heavy? It's heavy. The final breakdown of the song begins with a blast of 808 and ends with an extended scream by Luhrs. This album has its fair share of mosh parts so all you hardcore kids out there can rest easy.

I've already mentioned JB's growth on the album so it's only fair to mention Rambler's contributions. Long known for their odd time signatures, ABR has set themselves above the majority of their metalcore brethren by their mere ability to play in a time signature that is not 4/4. Rambler does an excellent job keeping everything together while still attempting to stray from the beaten path. Also worth mentioning is bassist Dustin Davidson. His masterful control of the low-end in conjunction with Rambler's guitar is the perfect counterpoint to JB's melodies. He really shines brightly in "Carpe Diem," where a short bass interlude draws listeners in without boring them instead.

And how can one write about August Burns Red without mentioning Matt Greiner? His domination of the drum set has long been a running joke with ABR fans - anyone want to take a trip to China? But despite his oft mentioned fetish with his china cymbals he is still, without a doubt, one of the best drummers around these days. His playing is tight and focused with never a swing of the stick being wasted. If a song needs speed, he blasts. If a song needs punctuation, he plays a downbeat. If the song needs to be held together, he holds it together. His drumming is a constant source of enjoyment as one listens to the album. Often drummers are relegated to the status of a mere metronome. Not Greiner. He constantly makes his presence known throughout the album with near impeccable drumming. Fans may be disappointed to know that he has significantly toned down his use of the china (I was a bit sad to see it go) but honestly, you won't notice. He more than makes up for it and never lets up.

With all of these musicians vying for your attention some may fear that the instruments will clash and confound each other. But this is not the case, August Burns Red knows how to work as a team. Never once was one part featured to the detriment of another, always working in unison to deliver a sonic assault that leaves listeners fully satisfied and the glue that holds this album together is Jake Luhrs. Lyrically, he is at the top of his game. These are some of the best lyrics I've heard this year, if not ever. His screams sound much the same as on Constellations. Raspy, but with a strength behind them that belies his welcoming demeanor. On the ending track, "Leveler," he gets lower than ever before. Some of his last growls on the album will shock long time fans. My only complaint with his vocals, and in fact with the album as a whole, is the few "spoken word" vocal sections that are sprinkled towards the end of the album. In these few moments Luhrs speak/screams in front of minimal music. The words he screams are inspirational and uplifting, but his voice just isn't built for that type of use. But luckily they are, literally, the only parts of the album that are not enjoyable and they are but a few seconds in length.

August Burns Red has done what I thought could not be accomplished. They have topped Constellations. This album is amazing on each and every imaginable level. This album levels the completion with a haymaker to the jaw. I was absolutely leveled after listening to it. Some bands, in an effort to stay relevant, continue to beat a dead horse and inadvertently perpetuate trends in the metalcore scene that have left it boring for those of us who aren't still in high school. Luckily, August Burns Red refuses to stoop to their level. All puns aside, this may be your album of the year. It maintains heaviness without sacrificing beauty. It grabs you and pulls you in. It has a depth rarely seen now-a-days. If you long for music that has meaning, that has beauty, that has real emotions, that has anger, hope and joy then listen to Leveler. You will not be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Levels All the Others, October 28, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Leveler (Audio CD)
Best August Burns Red record to date I think. Really well done. In particular I'm pleased with the deluxe edition which contains 4 additions tracks that add to the variety and creativity of the album. Definitely good!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars leveler, September 9, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Awesome album.Excellent riff, vocals and overall songs.Messengers is probably still their best,but this is close.There are few albums that can compare.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best album of the year!!, August 18, 2011
This review is from: Leveler (Audio CD)
August Burns Red have truly outdone themselves with leveler. This album has such a powerful sound and message as well. Jake has experimented with his vocals a little this time around and it sounds awesome! Matt's drumming, I can sum it up in one word and that word is REMARKABLE!!!! Every thing about this album just soars above anything else out right now!! You must hear it to believe it!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++!!!
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Leveler
Leveler by August Burns Red
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