August Burns Red – ‘Phantom Anthem’ (Album Review)
August Burns Red are more than just a metalcore band. For most of the past twenty years, the music industry has been stagnating – and since Killswitch Engage dropped The End Of Heartache about thirteen years ago, plenty of bands have stuck rigidly to the same old same old formula. Why stick your neck out when you can copy something that’s already been successful?
August Burns Red have the answer to that question. Since they started seriously shattering the metalcore mould on 2013’s Rescue & Restore, they’ve achieved Top Ten chart success – and 2015’s Found In Far Away Places also made it that far, while attracting a Grammy nomination for key track Identity. The truth is, many metal fans don’t actually want the same old same old.
It’s just what they’ve been fed, for far too long – and when a quality alternative is offered, they’ll buy it.
Phantom Anthem, like August Burns Red’s back catalogue, remains rooted firmly in metalcore. However, it also leans heavily on atmospheric bass grooves, delicious solos, and some now-expected-but-nonetheless-welcome Between The Buried And Me-style quirkiness – in other words, the elements that separate August Burns Red from the modern metal pack. Listening to Phantom Anthem, you get the sense that August Burns Red are trying to slowly lure their fans into embracing more and more progressive elements, like the metal world’s equivalent of horse whisperers.
So far, August Burns Red have succeeded in achieving that goal – and Phantom Anthem sounds like still another sure thing. Seven albums into a career, this kind of continued progress is absolutely incredible. There’s still more room for expansion, but Phantom Anthem remains an artistic success – and, if there’s any justice in the world, another commercial one as well.
LTK RATING: 91% (Essential Listening!)
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Phantom Anthem drops October 6; pre-order it on iTunes here.