The state of metalcore has been in disarray for quite some time now. Bands in this genre try to innovate, they try to sound different but at the end of the day end up making “yet another metalcore album”. Leveler by August Burns Red isn’t anything like that, but at the same time is very much like that. As confusing as this might sound, I’ll explain as you read along why that’s the case.
Leveler has a few surprise elements added in that ABR have never previously added on past records; flamenco inspired guitar, slide guitar, dynamic screams and gang vocals. But even with these additions August Burns Red come up almost empty handed. Whilst trying desperately to sound different, they can’t seem to shake that Constellations/Messenger’s sound that sadly makes them sound more generic than a Caliban album (I really have to stop using Caliban in my metaphors for describing un-originality).
I’m not saying that Leveler is a horrible record, it has its moments, but it brings nothing substantially new to the table. ABR consist of a talented bunch of musicians who haven’t reached their potential yet, instead it seems they’re sticking to the play as fast as you can, throw a breakdown in here and quirky guitar riff over there formula which is getting tiring. They really should have called this album Constellations: Part II because at times it Leveler feels like an album of Constellation’s b-sides.
One thing no one can deny is that ABR has their shit together, they know how to play together and they play well. They just haven’t released that album of their career, yet.
I will admit however that there are times when you just want to listen to some ear thrashing brutality, and Leveler does not disappoint in that department. If you’re in the mood for some straight-up metalcore, this album has your back.
If ABR release another album in 2 years time, I hope they seriously consider evolving their sound and pushing the envelope even if it means they stray away from their tried and tested metalcore formula that they’ve been comfortably clinging onto for the last few years.
Listen to the track ‘Internal Cannon’ below.