August Burns Red - Lost Messengers: The Outtakes
Record Label: Solid State Records
Release Date: February 24, 009
In addition to plenty of praise, many people criticize August Burns Red by saying that all of their songs sound the same. Lost Messengers: The Outtakes, an aptly-titled EP consisting of songs recording during the recording session for their previous album, 2007's Messengers, proves that the band doesn't just write one type of song. The album's artwork keeps with the same theme as Messengers; the candle's flame that once shone brightly is now a wisp of smoke. A nice touch is the liner notes, which are handwritten by the band members and provide interesting insight about the tracks.
The EP begins with two B-sides. "Chasing the Dragon," a song about a heroin addict, gets things started. The track is a bit more metal than hardcore, with a brief guitar solo in place of the usual breakdown. It's a good song, but I understand that it may have interrupted the flow of the album. "Moseley" (which was previously only available as a vinyl bonus track) is next. It's a heartfelt song about the death of a close friend taken at the age of 18. There's not much of a breakdown, but it's more like the August Burns Red that we know and love and undeniably the best track on the release.
Following the B-sides are three fun but unnecessary songs. "Carol of the Bells" is the band's instrumental version of the Christmas favorite (which appeared in the trailer for Frank Miller's The Spirit). The song sounds great; it remains true to the original while cranking up the heaviness, including an obligatory breakdown. "To Those About to Rock" is a one minute joke song spoofing southern rock-influenced metal that's currently all the rage, complete with swaggering vocals. "Piano Man" is a cover of the Billy Joel classic. It's just piano backed by bass and drums, which sounds nice. With no vocals and only a portion of the song, however, it will leave you wondering why it was included.
Rounding out the release are demo versions of "Truth of a Liar" and "Vital Signs." Rather than carbon copies of the versions that appear on Messengers, these demos have some noticeable differences. The former's vocal pattern was altered, while the latter was restructured.
Lost Messengers: The Outtakes may not gain any fans (though it's hard not to enjoy "Carol of the Bells"), but it's a nice way to tide followers over until the band releases their third full-length. The only problem is that the lasting value suffers after the B-sides are done. Those first two tracks are good, but the others are songs you'll likely only listen to a couple times before being bored with them. Still, the EP further proof that August Burns Red is one of the top bands in metalcore today, showing that even their B-sides are album-worthy.