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Album Review : August Burns Red – Death Below

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Review by Tammy Lomax for MPM

From the depths of Pennsylvania in 2003, metalcore mammoths August Burns Red formed in drummer Matt Greiner’s basement. They played an abundance of local shows together and recorded their first E.P “Looks Fragile After All” with CI Records in 2004.

Their second album “Messengers” was released in June 2007 and became one of the band’s breakthrough albums as it reached 81 on the Billboard 200 chart.

They proceeded to sign to Fearless Records in August 2014 and released the album “Found In Far Away Places” a year later.

The single “Identity” was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2016 and in 2018, single “Invisible Enemy” from their 2017 album “Phantom Anthem” was also nominated for a Grammy Award.

After hitting the road and completing tremendous amounts of tours and festivals supporting huge bands, the quintet announced they had departed ways with Fearless Records and signed to SharpTone Records in March 2022.

Following from their prodigious ninth studio album “Guardians” the American group announced their first release via SharpTone Records, “Death Below”.

This beast is due for release any day now and my oh my, what a victorious achievement.

It was recorded with longtime producers Carson Slovak and Grant McFarland, the band explained the past few years have been extremely dark and certainly very challenging. “Death Below” is the outcome of that time in each of their lives and the emotions that came with it. They are motivated by uncertainty, fear, outrage, triumph and it is the darkest thing they have written.

In celebration of their new album announcement, they released the stunning artwork and the first single “Ancestry”.

Alongside an emotionally crucifying video, Jesse Leach from Killswitch Engage is also featured in this heavy delight.

It’s an absolute scorcher and maximum amplification is the only way to appreciate all the layering this track has to offer.

It’s exceptionally heavy and indeed very fast paced in sections. The bass and guitars just solidly rip through the whole sound, it’s a technical versatile monster and the anthemic cleans lifts it all into a higher dimension.

The second single released from the album was “Backfire” and what a bouncy delight this one is, it’s wholly hammering and totally riffing. The guitars do all the talking and the overall sound holds a true depiction of August Burns Red rooted formula. The vocals are stretched, full of rage and ferociousness, yielded perfectly with the riffs from the guitars.

The third single released was “Reckoning” which features Spencer Chamberlain from Underøath and runs consistent to the other two tease releases. It is a huge chunk of music, just tapping over 8 minutes long. It’s a progressive, technical voyage with a tonne of energy. The rhythm goes off into a heartfelt emotion when Chamberlain’s solo surfaces but then returns with a full belt to the face. What a splendid crafted creation, a strong contender for one of the best tracks on the album.

Jason Richardson from All That Remains features in the track “Tightrope” and it’s another slab of metal thrown in your face, it assuredly blistering. Maybe slightly more melodic sounding with the guitars in places but still completely belting and gloriously heavy and fully ripping.

JT Cavey from ERRA also features in the track “The Abyss” which starts slow, dark and very deep but do not be fooled because within moments it will bash you all over the place. Those chunky riffs just hit your soul deep and the vocals are so juicy, guiding us to a total destruction and a tonne full more of meat.

It’s fair to say that this album is a huge slab of metal and is definitely one of my favourites of the year so far. I would agree with their statement about being their heaviest and darkest release thus far. The lyrics are moving and the music is skull bashing in every single track. If you cherish your metalcore then definitely listen to this, it’s so heavy, a perfect illustration of superiority and fine musicianship which is delivered with pinnacle energy.

“The Cleansing”
Ancestry” (Feat. Jesse Leach)
“Tightrope” (Feat. Jason Richardson)
“Fool’s Gold in the Bear Trap”
“Dark Divide”
“The Abyss” (Feat. JT Cavey)
“Reckoning” (Feat. Spencer Chamberlain)

Death Below’ out March 24, 2023 Pre-order at: http://www.deathbelow.com

Stream at: https://found.ee/DeathBelow

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