Editor's Rating

Have a listen to The 'Frost'

Rating out of 10

August Burns Red – Phantom Anthem

Release Date: 6th October 2017

Fearless Records

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/phantom-anthem/id1261229716

In recent years, metalcore heavyweights, August Burns Red, have been considered real torchbearers for the heavy subgenre. We’ve seen the likes of Parkway Drive and Bring Me the Horizon push away from the “core” sound that they made a name with and push to something simpler, a lot more stadium rock influenced. This Pennsylvania quintet, on the other hand, has done quite the opposite, instead of distancing themselves, they have been striving to push the boundaries of metalcore. The past couple of releases, ‘Found In Far Away Places’ (2015) and ‘Rescue & Restore’ (2013) have opened our eyes to new possibilities to how the genre can sound fresh, and now August Burns Red plan to extend that with their latest offering, ‘Phantom Anthem’.

The album opens up with the massive punch in the face that is ‘King Of Sorrow’, your ears are assaulted by an array of distorted shreds, Jake Luhrs’ savage screams and JB Brubaker’s fiddly lead melodies layered nicely on top. The pace is high and the beats are erratic to start off with, though it doesn’t take long for the August Burns Red’s progressive side to shine as the tempo slows and the intricacy escalates. Matt Greiner’s drum pattern never cease to amaze and it’s still just the opening track.

If you thought that the last couple of releases were pushing for the epic nature of songwriting, that was nothing. It seems that the progressive side is destined to thrive even more as each song is longer than four minutes, allowing for more solos and more beautiful instrumental segments. When you compare this to the likes of 2009’s ‘Constellations’ or 2011’s ‘Leveller’, in which the songs were shorter on an average, they were faster, more intense, more aggressive in ratio to melodic influences that keep peeking through on later releases.

‘Phantom Anthem’ isn’t exactly slower though; the likes of ‘The Frost’ and ‘Lifeline’ have pure pit starting segments, but the slower parts allow for a breather and make the heavier segments more impactful. Take ‘Hero of the Half Truth’ for example, we go from a beautiful guitar solo to an outrageously intense wave of crushing riffs, blast beats and monstrous roars that make you go “holy shit”. That “holy shit” statement doesn’t stop, especially with a track such as ‘Quake’, in which the technicality just makes your own instrumental talent feel inferior in comparison. JB Brubaker’s technical melodies, licks, and overall skill on a guitar absolutely blows my mind once again, and I say this with every album.

August Burns Red seems to have a pattern with each album where they are dropping the catchy metalcore anthems such as ‘Meddler’ or ‘Empire’ more and more, there is a lack of sing-along segments that truly stand out. Even the “core” influences don’t truly show anymore; this is far more of a “metal” atmosphere to ‘Phantom Anthem’ than there has on any previous release. In that pattern, the musicianship just feels as if it improves with every album, each instrument just pricks your ears in the best way, from the shreds to the beautiful slow burner moments. August Burns Red have unveiled instrumental versions of the previous couple of albums and I can honestly say I cannot wait to hear those versions of these songs. I have a feeling this release may create a divide though, from those that want a release of all-out bruisers like an album such as ‘Messengers’, to those that appreciate the intricacies.

For fans of Parkway Drive, Miss May I, In Hearts Wake

Check out our interview with JB Brubaker here

For more August Burns Red