Album Review: August Burns Red – Death Below
Reviewed by Liam True
August Burns Red is a band that has been on my radar for quite some time, but I've never actually listened to them at any point. That was until they performed a blistering set supporting Bury Tomorrow back in October of 2022. Since then, I've made it my mission to become better acquainted with the band and their style of metalcore. While aggressive they also add in melodic moments to their music to balance it out. And their new album Death Below is no stranger to changing the path they’ve taken.
Premonition opens the record up with a clean guitar sound instead of the crunchy distortion we’re used to being greeted by. The harsh vocal ability of Jake Luhrs is gone for the first three quarters of the songs replaced by his cleans before transforming overtime into his grittier tone. As Premonition comes to an end, The Cleansing you’re hit by a barrage of drum fills and blast beats by Matt Greiner as guitarists John Brubaker & Brent Rambler hit you with a dual-guitar assault of both melodic hanging notes and crunchy riffs as Luhrs intense high vocals come into play blowing you away with his ferocity.
Ancestry tees off with a fast-paced guitar riff before Greiner & Luhrs explode together with Luhrs vocals almost sounding like At The Gates’ Tomas Lindberg at times. The chorus is great but amplified with the vocal guest spot of Jesse Leach from Killswitch Engage which is a lovely treat for an already great song. Tightrope is a more technical affair both musically and lyrically made possible by former Chelsea Grin guitarist Jason Richardson’s appearance which boosts the guitar solos tremendously.
Fools Gold In The Bear Trap follows suit with Premonition. A slow burner with the clean guitar tone then Luhrs vocals and the band as a whole explode with force and it’s the first time you can hear the bass of Dustin Davidson as it overpowers the band on times and sounds exquisite.
Backfire see’s the band channel their inner Killswitch Engage as it sounds like it could have been ripped from any portion of their discography, not that it’s a bad thing, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and Killwitch must be flattered to the heavens as Backfire is perfect. Revival shows the bands willing to sound different as they head toward a more groove metal styling with the chuggs, pitch harmonics and Lamb Of God like riff stylings proving to be a great combination.
The final songs however aren’t much to write home about. While still good containing the classic August Burns Red sound and great drum work and riffs, it feels a bit forced and that the final few songs were made for a bit of filler, which even in that case they can write good songs as filler, but they don’t feel like they belong here. Maybe on Guardians or even a separate EP they would fit in better. But on Death Below they seem to be out of place.
As a cohesive album it’s great. Riffs, chuggs, singalong and guest appearances aplenty. Is it better than Guardians? Sometimes it isn’t and sometimes it’s not, but it’s a great August Burns Red album.