August Burns Red - Phantom Anthem
Review by Dom Vigil
Phantom Anthem, the newest release from metal titans August Burns Red is one of their most uplifting and powerful releases to date. Alongside the band’s trademark chaotic drumming, spectacular guitar and and gritty bass is some of frontman Jake Luhrs’ best lyrical work, depicting a journey to live a better, more meaningful life while acknowledging the good in other people.
The story begins with the chaotic opening track, “King of Sorrow.” In true August Burns Red fashion, there’s no easing you into this record. Instead, they force you to dive in headfirst, and what you’ll find is a four-minute opener filled to the brim with spectacular songwriting and explosive vocals.
Where “King of Sorrow” is relentless and wild, the second track, “Hero of the Half Truth” has a much more theatrical and melodic vibe to it, though. You’ll need the brief breaks that give you a moment to breathe between insane drum fills, because as it turns out, this track is even more exhausting than “King of Sorrow.” The song changes pace, mood and tempo so fast and so many times within five minutes that it’ll make your head spin - it’s some of ABR’s best songwriting to date.
With strong songwriting comes incredible lyrical content, as well. The third song, “The Frost” is an incredibly positive and hopeful track, encouraging listeners to look inward and be open minded to new experiences in lines like, “Open soul, open mind/I finally focused on what’s inside/I gained a new perspective.” A few songs later comes another powerful cut, “Quake,” in which Luhrs begs, “Keep moving, keep breathing.”
Up until the album’s seventh song, August Burns Red continue to deliver track after explosive track, but thankfully, “Coordinates” offers a much needed change of pace after the halfway point. Following six relentless tracks, this melodic song serves as a breath of fresh air while also reminding listeners that the band isn’t afraid to experiment with their sound a bit. Although much of the album sounds like good old fashioned August Burns Red, there are little moments throughout Phantom Anthem that’ll surprise you, too. The breakdown of “Dangerous,” for instance hosts some incredible flamenco-inspired guitar work.
Sticking with the lyrical themes of Phantom Anthem is the powerful eighth track, “Generations.” This song is full of strength and pride and feels very uplifting, and (like much of the album) hopeful for a better future. Contrasting with the chaotic sound on “Generations” is the following song, “Float,” which begs the question, “Where did we go wrong?” alongside stunning guitar and bass work. Then comes the explosive closer, “Carbon Copy,” which reminds listeners, “The choice is mine/I need to make the right one.”
These eleven hard-hitting tracks mark the perfect progression for August Burns Red, and will frankly come as no surprise to the band’s die-hard fans. Frontman Jake Luhrs has always been a proponent for mental health, so it’s no surprise that the ideology behind his project, HeartSupport would find its way into the band’s music some way. On Phantom Anthem, the band manages to blend these hopeful messages with their explosive, chaotic sound to create something that will resonate with their fans.
LISTEN TO "Carbon Copy" or "The Frost"
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