Top positive review
19 people found this helpful
on June 22, 2011
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.