August Burns Red
Solid State Records
14 July 2009
by Angie Louder
Former August Burns Red vocalist Jon Hershey’s ex-girlfriend, named August, was so scornful and mental that she burned his dog Redd alive while he slept in his doghouse. I know girls can get upset when they’re dumped, but on a scale of 1 to 10, how much of a future serial killer do you have to be to burn a dog alive?
The local newspaper headline the next day was “August Burns Redd”. It was an event that seriously messed with their heads, so they adopted the name in twisted remembrance of the event. This leads me to my first point, I think you have to make some pretty balls out music if your name is derived from a psycho and a crispy dog.
Hailing from Lancaster, PA, August Burns Red has been showing the world just how heavy Christians can be since 2003. Although they prefer not to associate too much with the Christian faith (because they say it has nothing to do with the music), I feel compelled to mention it because everyone else does. If I leave it out you might think I’m slacking. In reality, I just don’t care. So now you know, and learning is really what it’s all about, isn’t it?
The opening track, ‘Thirty and Seven’ bored me a bit at first. Not because it wasn’t heavy, but because it just sounds like the same old shit you’ve heard a million times. That was until at about 50 seconds when it opened up into a veritable slugfest of heavy pounding riffs and sick/sweet metal arpeggios. Jake Luhr’s barreling death growls were accompanied quite nicely by Dustin Davidson’s shrieking backup vocals (God that sounds so boring, like a fine dining menu, “The duck is accompanied quite nicely by a full bodied Merlot with notes of oak and redcurrant.”)
‘Existence’, ‘The Escape Artist’ and ‘Crusades’ all hit hard from the beginning. Double bass? Check. Brutal riffs? Check. Am I going to lump these all together because they all sound a bit alike? Check. In all honesty, these songs do reveal something more complex than ABR have shown before. I like the direction they’re going and they’ve definitely grown a bit since their last record Messengers. However I don’t like the ‘November Rain’-ish piano outro on ‘The Escape Artist’. It has a certain “WTF” factor.
‘White Washed’, ‘Meddler’ and ‘Meridian’ are an experiment in where they could go. I can hear them playing around and trying to push the envelope. There’s more emphasis on progressions and structure rather than the typical “chugga chugga” breakdowns. These are the songs that make me want to hear what they come up with next.
Watch the video to ‘Meddler’ by Auguts Burns Red
If you like your pretty melodies to get mauled by a wall of crushing guitars then ‘Marianas Trench’ is the way to go. This song reminds me of that drawing of a beautiful woman with a caption above it that says “after beer” and then you turn it upside down and it’s a busted old hag and it says “before beer”. Confused? It’s not hard, work it out. ‘Indonesia’ features Tommy Rogers from Between the Buried and Me. Sadly it’s a good song, but not a standout track. It’s just traditional metalcore with some extra vocals (golf claps).
All in all, Constellations is a good record from a better band. It’s heavy and a bit progressive. I don’t think they did anything truly amazing on this one, but you could hear the effort to forge a new direction. I have a feeling the next record will be where they reach whatever it is they’re going for. They’re 80% there already.
Sounds like: Between the Buried and Me, As I lay Dying, Dead Man in Reno
Top tracks: Ocean of Apathy, Paradox, Marianas Trench
August Burns Red – Constellations tracklisting
Thirty And Seven
Ocean Of Apathy
The Escape Artist