ALBUM REVIEW: Phantom Anthem – August Burns Red

AUGUST BURNS RED are strangely almost unique in the genre of metalcore nowadays, in that they still lead the charge in terms of their popularity and sound, and yet their sound hasn’t changed for over ten years. What defines them is their booming, epic, breakdown-heavy anthems of glory, implementing ridiculous solos and gang vocals to make every track feel like an absolute adventure. Since their breakthrough album, Messengers, from 2007, they’ve released album after album of hits, and not broken their stride for a single second. Their relevance can be proved by the fact that their recent Messengers 10 Year Anniversary tours of the US, UK and Europe sold out shows everywhere, and people went crazy from start to finish. In a recent interview with Distorted Sound, guitarist Brent Rambler attributed this in part to their solidarity as a band – “I definitely think that [the consistency of the band’s lineup] plays a big part. We know each other at this point, and we know how to work with each other.”

This theory is proven entirely in the form of the band’s huge new album, Phantom Anthem. From start to finish, the record defines completely the sound of AUGUST BURNS RED. Each and every track has its own brilliant hook, and the album soars through the band’s heavy beginnings right through to their more progressive recent undertakings, in a way that balances their sound perfectly.

It opens with King Of Sorrow, and short of being the usual atmospheric intro track we expect in the genre nowadays, AUGUST BURNS RED dive straight into a metalcore riff-fest. Throughout the first half of the album, the band barely let up, showing that the passing of time has not deteriorated their ability to deliver punishing blast beats, huge breakdowns, and the trademark tapping and solos we have come to expect from lead guitarist, and seemingly ageless JB Brubaker. It’s difficult to pick highlights in this first section, as it all seems to blend together in a whirlwind of blast beats and metalcore machismo, but one thing is certain – they picked their singles well.

The Frost was the second single released from the album, and it’s everything that’s good about Phantom Anthem. It’s epic, easily fills five minutes, and has a huge chorus as well as some spectacular fretwork. This theme is reflected on several tracks on the album, such as Lifeline, Float and closer Carbon Copy. Invisible Enemy also stands out as the other single on the album, which had an imaginative puppet-themed music video alongside its release. This sound has received massive praise when the band have been playing it live on recent tours, due to its old-school feel and irresistible rhythm.

It’s clear on several of the songs that the rhythm section of the band, made up of drummer Matt Greiner, guitarist Brent Rambler and bassist Dustin Davidson, have taken great influence from their old material. Most of the album throws fans straight back to Thrill Seeker and Messengers in terms of its blinding speed, blast beats and china fills on the drums. However, on songs such as Coordinates, it’s evident that some of their more recent endeavours have made it through. Found In Far Away Places had several songs on it with drawn out, jazzy instrumental sections showcasing the groove and variety of the band, and there are several of these moments on Phantom Anthem – albeit more defined.

In Brent’s interview with us, he stated that ‘…we think if you are a fan of the band you will enjoy it’. He couldn’t be further from the truth. Phantom Anthem is exactly what AUGUST BURNS RED fans have been waiting for since the last album. Fast, heavy, epic and feel-good, it embodies the band’s slogan: ‘Angry music, for happy people’.

Rating: 9/10

Phantom Anthem - August Burns Red

Phantom Anthem is set for release on October 6th via Fearless Records.

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