HomeReviewReview: “Constellations” by August Burns Red (10th Anniversary)
29th November 2019
Review: “Constellations” by August Burns Red (10th Anniversary)
We know that Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam D frowns upon the Anniversary Tour as stifling creativity as “all things move forward” but you can’t help but love a classic album. So, many Metal bands are now doing a run for the 10th, 20th and even 25th Anniversary of one of their much loved releases for the fans, some of whom are getting to see the songs performed live for the first time having missed out the first time around. Sometimes the bands in question are playing songs they have never played live before or since that that inaugural run. As August Burns Red are back in town for the 10th Anniversary Tour for 2009’s Solid State Records album “Constellations” we figured what better time than now to review it. That is the 2009 edition and not this year’s remixed and remastered anniversary edition. Original and best? Let’s see…
…the third studio record from the Lancaster Pennsylvania quintet was the second with Jake Luhrs fronting the band and August Burns Red’s third vocalist overall. Recorded at Audiohammer Studios with the legendary Jason Suecof (Trivium, The Black Dahlia Murder) in the Production chair it also received some additional mixing from Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Land, Bleeding Through).
The classic Metalcore gallop of “Thirty and Seven” could be of any band of the era, As I Lay Dying, It Dies Today and even at the time Killswitch Engage all occupying similar proving grounds but what stands it apart are the leads from J.B. Brubaker which after the huge pick slide of the opening, light up the track light a flame to blue touch paper. An explosive riff laiden affair with breakdowns galore is then followed with another in “Existence” which sees sticksman Matt Greiner demonstrate some sublime skills from the drum stool while hints at some of the more Progressive Metal riffs patterns of the bands future material are obvious seeds at this juncture. A slick sounding track with plenty going on across multiple listens, it’s one of the finer moments of Metalcore. The third pre-released single from the album “Ocean Of Apathy” dropped five weeks before the album did and had some proper wow factor lead guitar work while Jake Luhrs vocals are amongst his unclean finest. A melodic Jazzy interlude moment before a pull back into a another throat shredding verse with slick elegance in the lead guitars makes for a stand out moment.
The huge almost tribal drum fills of the start “White Washed” sets a new tone with some pre-DJentism atmospheric guitar work before a classic blast beat section and some obvious Death Metal influenced sounds. It’s a head rush of energy that keeps giving with the twists of a page turning thriller. “You’re the straw that’s crushing my back, You are the salt that’s burning my wounds” is a fitting closing lyric. The melloncholic opening to “Marianas Trench” is straight out of Progressive Metal playbook, it’s elongated riff patterns before the turn around setting the tone and clearing the mind before the pulverising main track kicks in with a gear shift that is breath taking. Jake Luhrs vocals are of a higher pitch and cleaner showcasing a wider range while he depicts drowning in the waters. Returning to the Metalcore gallop “Escape Artist” simply says “your mouth is like a grenade” amid stuccato rythmic groves from Brent Rambler overlayed with some more to die for leads from J.B. Brubaker. A battering ram of a track, wrapped up in Christmas paper and delivered tied with a bow, it closes with drummer Matt Greiner sat at a piano for an ambient break before “Indonesia” kicks in. A song written in tribute to David Clapper, a missionary who died in a plane crash in Indonesia and was from August Burns Red’s home town of Lancaster Pennsylvania, it features a guest appearance from Tommy Giles Rogers of Between The Buried And Me. Pushing the band to get that extra little spark, the lone guest appearance sees some aching clean vocals in a bridge section surrounded by plumes of riff bursts in another stand out moment.
Jake Luhrs has beef with someone on “Paradox” he clentches his fist and screams “swallow your pride, because silence is golden” while he’s surrounded by a whirlwind of pummelling rhythms and swirling moods. The lead flourishes are a lift from the darkness of the paradox and it’s follow up “Meridian” chugs into life. An atmospheric build up fades away with some post hardcore influenced guitar work appearing underneath a huge drum sound. A bright and thoughtful shoegazing quality cut, it could almost be without the sparse vocal verse. Following up the longer more thoughtful track with the short sharp tongued burst of “Rationalist” is a fine move, a lyrical pulling limb from limb of an individual who is putting strain on the band, it’s a tactical missile of a track.
Climbing and falling beautifully, “Meddler” hammers away at a rock face with DJent groove rhythms behind slick bright lead guitars and a unifying message. Before you ask, “Crusades” isn’t a historical tale of journeys to foreign lands to fight holy wars. It’s a metaphor for the challenges of life being like a Crusade, fighting against all odds to keep one’s head above water despite the trials of fire thrown in one’s direction. A track with great flow, it is another to feature a beautiful melodic break before a punishing final verse and close on an acoustic guitar pluck. Perhaps under rated and under appreciated at the time, “Constellations” has grown over the years to be a masterpiece in the growth of August Burns Red and a stunning album as a whole with Technicality that can not be under estimated. Is Technical Metalcore an already established Metal sub-genre? [9/10]
Thirty and Seven
Ocean Of Apathy
Indonesia (ft. Tommy Giles Rogers of Between The Buried And Me)
“Constellations” by August Burns Red has been out for a decade via Solid State Records