August Burns Red – Phantom Anthem
Released: Oct 6th, 2017
August Burns Red Line up:
Jake Luhrs| Vocals
JB Brubaker| Lead Guitar
Brent Rambler| Rhythm Guitar
Dustin Davidson| Bass
Matt Greiner| Drums
August Burns Red Online:
Ok, I have to admit, I am not in any way a metalcore fan.
Musically I love the heaviness of the genre but I struggle with the unclean vocals. Thankfully August Burns Red isn’t your average metalcore band. Sure Jake Luhrs’ vocals come from the depths of I-don’t-know-where, but he has a range and complexity most others don’t.
Rewind to 2014, Soundwave Perth where this writer bumped into drummer Matt Greiner backstage. We didn’t talk music because when I started talking to him, I had no idea who he was (to be fair he didn’t know who I was either). We were just a musician and an idiot shooting the shit – discussing the high cost of just about everything in Perth amongst other things. One thing he said to me was “words are very powerful” no huge revelation, but something that stuck with me. Matt seemed a genuinely nice guy, so I decided to hang around and catch their set. It took me about 30 seconds to realise these 5 guys were some seriously good musicians – time to park the prejudice and open the mind.
So here we are 3 years after discovering August Burns Red and Phantom Anthem lands on my desk. I heard good things about it, Browny grabbed Matt for a chat on Wall of Sound: Up Against The Wall with the drummer hinting at a new, possibly even more progressive direction for this album. From the opening track, you are left in no doubt this isn’t just another metalcore album. Off-kilter time signatures permeate throughout. If Greiner was pushed to his limit it doesn’t show, the maniac behind the set takes his drumming to yet another level, no mean feat considering he’s one of the best in the genre. The other half of the rhythm section Dustin Davidson is right there along for the ride. There are more than enough guitar heroes in this world, it’s time for a few more bass heroes, and Davidson more than fits the bill.
Vocally, Luhrs steps out of his comfort zone. His usual angst-tinged screams take on a new angry more brutal sound. His delivery of the line ”we will show no mercy” at the conclusion of ‘Hero Of The Half Truth’ is enough to give you goosebumps. He also dabbles in the odd cleaner vocal, highlighted on the tracks like ‘Lifeline’ and ‘Coordinates’. Never fear, while you may be easing into the proggyness, tracks like ‘Invisible Enemy’ wrench you back to a brutal metalcore reality. Sonically, JB Brubacker and Brent Rambler are almost orchestral in their playing at times, without losing any of the crushingly heavy riffs the pair are so well known for.
This album twists and turns, combining the heaviest metal with the tastiest jazz infused licks and almost orchestral arrangements. It’s an angry album for angry times, with strong and powerful messages without becoming preachy. If the boys deserved a Grammy nomination for ‘Identity’ they deserve a win for ‘Phantom Anthem’.
I’m still not a metalcore fan…
August Burns Red – Phantom Anthem track listing:
- King of Sorrow
- Hero of the Half Truth
- The Frost
- Invisible Enemy
- Carbon Copy