Delivering a positive message in the most destructive sonic capacity, August Burns Red have been long since the flag bearers of modern Metalcore. Set to unveil their latest release on October 6th, the band forge further into the future. Recently celebrating their ten year anniversary of the landmark Messengers, the band have been not only looking forward but back too. In a nostalgia inducing flirtation with their past, the band may well have learnt a few things implemented on their tenth release Phantom Anthem.
It could be argued that the band might have lost sight of their origins, particularly with their previous record Found In Faraway Places, by no means a bad record, it simply felt like the band were beginning to become a caricature of themselves. Bringing unnecessary wild hoedowns into the mix it was a sound we were all too familiar with. Instead here the band thrive with dynamics, “Coordinates” for example sees a drop out forming vocalist Luhrs’ voice into a kind of manly choir followed by a tastefully executed lead lick from Brubaker, before a riff that would sit perfectly amongst Constellations swoops in. Lead single “Invisible Enemy” draws on that most vital of August Burns Red ingredients, the breakdown, bringing a back to basics focus whilst ensuring that the band aren’t simply repeating themselves.
Embracing this new lease of life, the band have brought back the hardened focus that was so militant in Messengers. The uplifting guitar tones of “The Frost” bring this adventurous musicianship forward yet are anchored with more tight knit rhythm section. Seen in the likes of “Quake” where the entire band cohesively return to unity delivering those signature breakdowns. Hearing Matt Greiner’s iconic crash cymbal taking a battering once more fills the heart with joy. Though stand out moment personally comes in the form of “Lifeline” a track that almost follows the classic August Burns Red melody by rote.
Over indulgent on their previous release, the band needed to be grounded to their identity rather than distracted by new ideas to implement. Returning back to their Metalcore foundations, ending on positive notes both “Carbon Copy” and “Float” could well be some of Phantom Anthem’s gems, with some fantastic guitar work from Brubaker. My only gripe with the record would be at times the band could have done with cutting the fat even further, tracks lasting five minutes that could have had a bigger impact in three. Despite this slight niggle, understanding what was needed of them, August Burns Red have returned to their former glory. Executed with precision, passion and maturity Phantom Anthem is the record fans have been waiting for.