By Angela Kenney

Metal band August Burns Red has produced an even heavier album than their previous works with the release of their fourth full-length album Leveler (Solid State Records).  Leveler is the follow-up to the successful Constellations (2009).  The band, vocalist Jake Luhrs, guitarists JB Brubaker and Brent Rambler, bassist Dustin Davidson, and drummer Matt Greiner, are well known for playing in uncommon time signatures and at fast tempos while keeping strong melody in their heavy sound.   Leveler is set to be released on June 21, 2011 and proves that the band has yet to lose any momentum.  The bands heavier sound on Leveler is sure to satisfy some diehard fans who have been around for some time.

Leveler’s opening track “Empire” closely resembles the opening track from their first full-length Thrill Seeker, before making a jump into a fast guitar led song.  The first two tracks show the band’s use of uncommon musical elements making them stand out against many other metal bands in today’s music industry.  Track two “Internal Cannon” has a surprising salsa influenced guitar break in the middle of the song, including the use of a vibraslap.

Pangaea” is the typical August Burns Red track on the album beginning with careful guitar work that is carried by a strong melody.  A guitar solo is featured in the middle of the song played over a strong off-beat played by Greiner.  The next track “Carpe Diem” is without a doubt the experimental track of Leveler.  The song features a fast, strong bass beat with a slide guitar being played over it for the bulk of the song.  For the most part, the song is slow and rather quiet, something uncommon for August Burns Red, but Luhrs’ powerful vocals make up for the soft sound found in this track.  Luhrs’ vocals in general on this album have blossomed much more than in the past.  Luhrs jumps between his usual growls to high pitched screams August Burns Red fans have not yet heard from Luhrs.

Another unexpected element incorporated into this album is found in on the track “Salt and Light” where there is a soft break from the heavy instruments and features sung gang vocals from the guys; gang vocals also appear on the first track “Empire.” The only true break in heaviness on the album is on the short song “1-16-2011” which is a simple guitar riff that carries over into arguably the heaviest song on the album, “Boys of Fall.”  The song starts with fast cymbal hits in between hard hitting riffs, leading into a fast guitar sound and low played breakdowns.

August Burns Red is not afraid to break a few rules in order to grow something that some bands seem to be scared to do.  Leveler is a new direction for this genre even for a band at August Burns Red’s level; no pun intended.  Fans are well aware of the risk that the band takes with the great difference in each of their albums.  A downfall of the album is that some of the songs can sound similar in the opening notes, but when they get moving and deeper into the songs each of them has new elements and different emotions. August Burns Red will be supporting their new album playing all summer long on the Teggart Stage on Vans Warped Tour.

Rating: 8/10

Release Date: June 21, 2011

Record Label: Solid States Records

Recommended Tracks: “Pangaea”/ “Carpe Diem”/ “Poor Millionaire”

For Fans Of: Evergreen Terrace, Texas In July

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