ALBUM: Phantom Anthem
ARTIST: August Burns Red
Heavy devotees rejoice, this Friday 6th October marks the release of the epically anticipated seventh album from American metalcore veterans August Burns Red - and despite all the hype and expectations, 'Phantom Anthem' is an explosive masterpiece that is equal parts relentless and astonishing.
No strangers to a little touch of some prog and thrash, the band already graced the airwaves with two singles in the lead up to this new release, with singles 'Invisible Enemy' and 'The Frost' unveiled earlier this year, and 'Phantom Anthem' itself is just under an hour of confident experimentation and cohesion from this hard-hitting quintet.
'Phantom Anthem' busts out with 'King of Sorrow', a heaving yet ecstatic affair of raging, fiery riffs that leaves you breathless before morphing into the melancholic, prog-laden 'Dangerous', a track boasting punishing guitars, and throttling drums and vocals. Glimmers of calm appear throughout the album, with a nifty little ambient breakdown popping up at the end of 'Carbon Copy', following some manic time signatures, melodic guitars and a heavier hardcore influence creeping through the distortion. 'Hero and the Half Truth' throws in some heaving growls from frontman Jake Luhrs, while 'The Frost' busts out some hazy melodies, chunky riffs and some nifty sprinklings of percussion throughout - it's a bang-up metal anthem full of call-and-response and one of the cheerier tracks on the album. 'Lifelines' showcases the group's flawless cohesion, blending snarling licks over tasty percussion - but this track also inevitably shines the spotlight on drummer Matt Greiner and his blistering beats: that cymbal gets a beating and his tenacious style just ramps up more and more as the album wears on.
The second half of 'Phantom Anthem' explodes with the bombastic and brutal 'Invisible Enemy', definitely one of the grittier tracks with its dramatic and savage riffs, leading seamlessly into 'Quake' with its splashy drums (and again another powerhouse performance from Greiner), a raucous pace and some classic metal riffage. 'Coordinates' journeys between cinematic peaks and elegant lulls and is quite possibly what James Bond would listen to if he was into metal music. Closing out the album is 'Generations', smashed full of high octane shredding and raw vocals, before the final track 'Float' ups the ante with its upbeat and frenetic tone - in particular it shows off the true vocal range of Lurhs, finishing with a punky breakdown and anthemic chanting, before the track suddenly swirls off into silence and leaves you on a subdued high.
From start to finish the album is relentlessly intoxicating, lulling you in with occasional moments of serenity amidst the punishing beats and bellowing vocals. But despite the (at-times) ferocious barrage, there is enough light and shade to entice the lovers and the haters of so-called metalcore (which is a questionable label, given the band's obvious fusion tendencies - but let's not split hairs). 'Phantom Anthem' is a serious triumph for the unstoppable juggernaut that is August Burns Red, a band who have outlasted so many of their kind. And if nothing else it will get the blood pumping and fists bumping - do yourself and your ears a favour and get your hands on it this Friday.
Phantom Anthem will be released on October 6th and can be pre-ordered here
'Invisible Enemy' and 'The Frost' are streaming now on Spotify, for more into head to:
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BY TIANA SPETER