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August Burns Red - Leveler Album Cover

August Burns Red - Leveler

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9.4
August Burns Red Leveler
Record Label: Solid State Records
Release Date: June 21, 2011

In a year where there have been lots of good heavy releases but not very many great releases, August Burns Red's Leveler serves as a welcome breath of fresh air. The band has come a long way from their 2007 release, Messengers. Messengers was a good release but was not a stand out record. Their generic fast heavy metalcore sound just fit a template of what several other bands have followed over the last several years. They did it well, but hardly stood out from the pack. Constellations, their third full length album, the band started to evolve a bit, adopting bits of prog rock elements. It's no secret that the band have drawn inspiration from Between the Buried and Me and as a nod to the band even included Tommy Rogers as a guest vocalist on the song “Indonesia”.

Their fourth full length Leveler builds on the sound that they started to incorporate into Constellations. The band is not afraid to slow down tracks, or add more prog rock elements a la BTBAM. The album's opener “Empire” is a heavy fast song incorporating anthemic gang vocals towards the end. Following “Empire” is “Internal Cannon” possibly one of the more ambitious tracks on the album. It incorporates some of the aforementioned prog rock elements midway through the song, adding a BTBAM salsa-esque piece midway through, however with the track falling short of 4 minutes the part doesn't truly seem to fit the song and it ends almost as abruptly as it starts. Still the track is a standout and sets the tone for the rest of the album.

“Carpe Diem” builds on what “Internal Cannon” started and in my opinion is the top track on the album. Where “Internal Cannon” seems to fail in tying everything together before the track ends “Carpe Diem” does not leave anything unfinished. The song starts with a distant guitar intro leading up to vocalist Jake Luhr's growls alternated with the screams of bassist Dustin Davidson. After the exchange the song slows down immensely for a quiet melodic instrumental section. The vocals come back in after a bit and the guitar line from the melodic section returns to tie all the elements together before the song comes to a sudden halt. However, the band don't totally leave behind the fast metal approach as songs like “Pangaea” and “Boys of Fall” are heavy hitters, as “Boys...” features one of the standout breakdowns on the album.

Lyrically the album focuses on several different things, all from a Christian point of view. “Internal Cannon” and “Divisions” speak on turning your life in the right direction, perhaps addressing a personal struggle Luhrs faced in the past. “Boys of Fall” and “Poor Millionaire” deal more with the subject of materialism, the latter of which features the band's most biting and vicious lyrics to date.

The album is a huge step up from any release the band has come out with to date. They manage to successfully incorporate prog rock elements and impressive guitar riffs/solos to an overdone metalcore scene while not reaching BTBAM song lengths. I believe if the band fine tune their craft for their next album it could be a real masterpiece. As it stands this is one of the top heavy releases thus far this year in my opinion, and I am excited to see where the band goes next. As Luhrs yells nearing the end of the track Salt & Light “I hope these words carry on in these songs I pray you sing one day”; in response to you Jake, I truly believe many people will be singing along to these songs. Leveler will not disappoint.

Key tracks"Empire", "Internal Cannon", "Carpe Diem"

Recommended If You LikeAugust Burns Red's Constellations; Between the Buried and Me; metalcore
This review is a user submitted review from christseeyore. You can see all of christseeyore's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 14 of 14
07:33 PM on 09/05/11
#2
Apathium
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"Messengers was a good release but was not a stand out record. Their generic fast heavy metalcore sound just fit a template of what several other bands have followed over the last several years. They did it well, but hardly stood out from the pack. Constellations, their third full length album, the band started to evolve a bit "

What are you saying. How is Constellations>Messengers???? Am i alone on this one?
09:21 PM on 09/05/11
#3
WeltallAY
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"Messengers was a good release but was not a stand out record. Their generic fast heavy metalcore sound just fit a template of what several other bands have followed over the last several years. They did it well, but hardly stood out from the pack. Constellations, their third full length album, the band started to evolve a bit "

What are you saying. How is Constellations>Messengers???? Am i alone on this one?
No I agree with you. Constellations was good but the low overal audio level kept me from listening to it more and the songs weren't as memorable. In fact, all I can remember is the excellent line "Don't excuse yourself from life today!" on the second track.
02:34 AM on 09/06/11
#4
christseeyore
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"Messengers was a good release but was not a stand out record. Their generic fast heavy metalcore sound just fit a template of what several other bands have followed over the last several years. They did it well, but hardly stood out from the pack. Constellations, their third full length album, the band started to evolve a bit "

What are you saying. How is Constellations>Messengers???? Am i alone on this one?
I never said Constellations was better than Messengers. Simply that Constellations was the album the band used that album as a stepping stone for where they were shifting their sound to. Personally, I don't prefer one over the other, my issue with Messengers is that it is generic fast metalcore, indistinguishable from several other bands of its time. Even in the quote you posted I said that it was good, but that it was not a stand out album. In my opinion neither was Constellations. Leveler is their best album by a long shot in my opinion and it stands head and shoulders from either of their previous releases. That includes Thrill Seeker and their EP's.
07:40 AM on 09/06/11
#5
Spencer Control
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No I agree with you. Constellations was good but the low overal audio level kept me from listening to it more and the songs weren't as memorable. In fact, all I can remember is the excellent line "Don't excuse yourself from life today!" on the second track.
Wait, what about the audio level? Is it one of those CDs that ends up sounding really quiet compared to other songs on your media player?

Interesting review. Personally, I though Carpe Diem was the worst track - not bad, but the worst - on the album. And hurrah for audible bass.
11:24 AM on 09/06/11
#6
WeltallAY
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Wait, what about the audio level? Is it one of those CDs that ends up sounding really quiet compared to other songs on your media player?

Interesting review. Personally, I though Carpe Diem was the worst track - not bad, but the worst - on the
album. And hurrah for audible bass.

Yeah that's exactly what I'm talking about. Norma Jean's newest had a similar problem. Petty I know, but still irritating.
12:07 PM on 09/06/11
#7
Spencer Control
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Yeah that's exactly what I'm talking about. Norma Jean's newest had a similar problem. Petty I know, but still irritating.
Really? That one didn't give me trouble, I don't think... but The Devil Wears Prada's With Roots Above and Branches Below, deluxe, did. I assumed it was a problem with my software. Ughhh. That's really annoying. I feel ya.
02:25 PM on 09/06/11
#8
WeltallAY
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Really? That one didn't give me trouble, I don't think... but The Devil Wears Prada's With Roots Above and Branches Below, deluxe, did. I assumed it was a problem with my software. Ughhh. That's really annoying. I feel ya.

As dumb as this sounds is it possible that either when CDs are manufactured they're 'not all created equally' or that something happens when you import it into iTunes? I wrote it off a while ago but hearing we had opposite experiences with albums (My tdwp has an excellent audio level) makes me wonder. It's a shame because it was significant enough to delete meridonal off my iPod :/
04:36 PM on 09/06/11
#9
Spencer Control
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As dumb as this sounds is it possible that either when CDs are manufactured they're 'not all created equally' or that something happens when you import it into iTunes? I wrote it off a while ago but hearing we had opposite experiences with albums (My tdwp has an excellent audio level) makes me wonder. It's a shame because it was significant enough to delete meridonal off my iPod :/
I ripped mine with WMP. (Since ditching WMP and getting a freeware program that actually worked better, I have not had the problem.) I always wondered what precisely caused it. I'll look into it. It annoys me, but I'm too lazy to delete it, and I still like the music enough, haha.
05:47 PM on 09/06/11
johnnyferris
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No I agree with you. Constellations was good but the low overal audio level kept me from listening to it more and the songs weren't as memorable. In fact, all I can remember is the excellent line "Don't excuse yourself from life today!" on the second track.
I know exactly what you're talking about. The audio level was insane on Messengers, but Constellations was really quiet in comparison.
11:14 AM on 09/08/11
spoonman159
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Fuck the audio level, its not nearly as big a deal as most of you all are making it out to be. Constellations is ABRs best work to date, Messengers was groundbreaking and I didn't think they'd ever top it but Constellations has a very slight edge.
05:22 AM on 11/29/11
xMarkusx
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breakdown no. 4954 sounds exactly the same like breakdown no. 4953...

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