Over the years, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, quintet August Burns Red have crafted a signature brand of metalcore that challenges the genre’s status quo, and the band’s fourth album pushes the envelope even further. Leveler sees the band returning to (and exceeding) the heaviness of their 2007 album, Messengers, while crafting its most ambitious songs to date. The second track here, “Internal Cannon,” begins with the group’s distinctive oddly timed breakdowns and technical guitar work, but then transitions into a Latin-sounding clean section. As strange as this might sound, the fusion of influences is done artfully and comes across great. The song, for which the band has filmed a music video, is the most daringly experimental on the record, and may also be the album’s best track.
Unlike many of his more showy peers, lead guitarist JB Brubaker shreds tactfully, playing memorable melodies on “Cutting the Ties,” “Poor Millionaire,” and “Pangaea.” Drummer Matt Greiner also delivers his best work to date, pounding furious blast beats and seeming to be everywhere around the kit at once. The result of it all is a more diverse effort than the band’s last release, 2009's Constellations, as the songs really stand apart from each other this time around. August Burns Red have set their own bar even higher on Leveler, and have done so for all of their scene in the process. The album is certainly among the most memorable releases so far this year. DAVID McKENNA
Check out "Empire" from Leveler below: