Best of 2016 Playlist

August 17, 2015

August Burns Red - "Found in Far Away Places" Review

Expectations were blown away after listening to the most recent effort from metalcore heavy weights August Burns Red. Their music has always been good, but this was phenomenal. A standout from other metalcore bands, and a step in the right direction, fellow artists would do well to take a page from ABR's book. These guys know what they're doing an more.

To buy the album on iTunes click this (link). 

A heavy, and yet surprisingly fun album from ABR, "Found in Far Away Places" had its work cut out for it after "Rescue & Restore". Consistently melodic, and full of impressive guitar work, the band has written a record they should be very proud of. The album draws heavily from heavy metal, with raging solos and breakdowns. Choruses that are equal parts thrashing, and melodic. 

"The Wake" is a head banging opener about taking care of the planet, and how we have made poor choices in regards to it. The two ensuing songs are prime examples of the band's willingness to dive into new genres. "Martyr" contains on of the best bridges, a soft touch for this typically heavy band. The atmospheric guitars are different, and a pleasant surprise to listeners. The song then transitions back into metal territory, complete with some very impressive guitar work from JB Brubaker, who is at the top of his game in this record. 

New sounds aplenty in this album, "Separating the Seas" is probably the most unique song released from the band, and possible the most unique metal song ever heard by fans. Less than 2 minutes into the otherwise stellar track, we find ourselves listening to something a little more folk, and a lot less hardcore. It's as if someone took bar mitzvah music and just slapped it into the middle of the track for no reason. Fast forward a minute later and we get back into familiar territory with Jake Luhr's screaming vocals kicking in. 

The western twang in "Identity" at about 1:45 are another pleasant surprise. The guitar solo is a also nice change of pace for a genre that would typically throw in a breakdown at this point in the song. In fact many of the tracks have an odd western bridge, like "Majoring in the Minors". The country vibes are odd, and don't make much sense. Similar to "Separating the Seas" the bridge feels forced, and put upon the band. The song is otherwise a must listen to, if you can get over the oddities found within the initial two minutes. 

"Ghosts" is one of the highlights of the album. The songs stars out slow and airy, similar to the bridge in "Martyr". The band takes a step back to provide the listener with a little "time out" before the verse starts. Jeremy McKinnon's clean vocals were unexpected, and seem a bit forced for this track. The gang vocal chorus is a much better fit for the chugging track. That's not to say his vocals aren't stellar, they just don't seem to fit in with the band's style. The intense breakdown makes this album as fun as it is well written. 

The biggest drawback is the rather monotonous song structure. The template of their songs may be a turn off for some, or be a bit flat upon an initial listen. Most of the tracks on this album are built around this formula; "heavy intro and verse, raging chorus, softer bridge, random genre throw in, head banging verse and back into raging chorus". And as incredible as that sounds, it is at times a little lack luster. After a while you may find yourself wishing for something that doesn't jump up and down the volume levels. The softer aspects of the songs aren't bad, but they are tedious after hearing four or five of them in a row. On certain tracks, they are also a bit unnecessary, and the band could have easily shaved a twenty seconds off their tracks if they had skipped the guitar solo.  

Summary -
This album is full of surprises for fans. A standout album of 2015, the album as a whole is a solid work from the band. If you haven't heard it yet, and are a fan of intense breakdowns, high pitched guitar solos, aggressive lyrics, and songs that you can bang your head to, this will be your album of the year. A must have for fans of Bury Tomorrow, and older Memphis May Fire tracks. Overall, this is album is a hit, and earns the band well deserved kudos. Mixing a little heavy metal with some melodic hardcore to give us one of the best albums of the year. 

Favorite Tracks -
"Martyr" and "Identity" are my favorite tracks, but be sure to listen to "The Wake" and "Everlasting Ending" too. 
Rating -
7.5 to 8/10