August Burns Red

August Burns Red

They say the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If true, then in many ways the genre of metalcore has become the equivalent of insanity – hundreds of bands repackaging the same structures, same guitar riffs and scream-sing choruses to the same effect.

To borrow a popular 90’s motivational phrase, AUGUST BURNS RED would like to “stop the insanity.”

The band’s latest album, Rescue & Restore, is a colossal effort which turns a critical eye to the oft-maligned genre, leading by example to prove that bands can still find exciting new ways to expand the genre without simply falling into repetitive trappings.

“Rescue & Restore is about challenging other bands and ourselves, as well as fans of this music, to want more than whatever happens to be the current buzz,” explains guitarist and principal songwriter JB Brubaker. “We’ve done our best with each new album to try to push our sound in new directions and we’d like to see our peers do the same. People need to realize that there’s not much of a difference between a metalcore song that has a couple breakdowns with a repeating chorus and the latest Lady Gaga song. This genre used to be better than that. It can still be better than that.”

With so many bands in the heavy music scene seemingly intent on madness, AUGUST BURNS RED aren’t afraid to branch out, weaving in elements of other influences from punk to indie to rock. Throughout the album’s 11 tracks, the band artfully blend piano, cello, violin, trumpet, various percussive elements and more into their sonic arsenal, taking their music to new aesthetic heights and contorting the boundaries of heavy music.

“At the end of the day we are still a very heavy band,” Brubaker says. “Rescue & Restore still has plenty of really heavy stuff, techy odd meter riffs, and all the stuff that people have come to expect from us, it just has a lot more surprises along the way.”

Rescue & Restore marks AUGUST BURNS RED’s fifth proper album, fleshing out an impressive body of work that also includes a live record, a collection of B-sides, and a 2012 holiday album, Sleddin’ Hill, released over the band’s lauded decade-long career. Since launching out of Manheim, PA, the industrious outfit has successfully transitioned from shake-up-the-field upstarts to one of the biggest names worldwide in the genre. On stages across the U.S. to Europe, Japan, Australia, South America and more, from renowned fests such as UK’s Download Festival to the Warped Tour, which they join again in 2013 as a mainstage act, AUGUST BURNS RED have spent years taking their music and message directly to fans, and in the process have grown into one of the leading forces in the modern metal scene, a fact bolstered by their 1.4 million Facebook fans and more than half- million albums sold.

AUGUST BURNS RED cemented their status with the June 2011 release of their fourth studio album, Leveler, which rocketed to the top of the Billboard charts – debuting at #11 on the Billboard 200 in addition to entering the charts as the #1 Hard Rock album and #2 Rock album. Adding to the stellar debut is the incredible durability and staying power Leveler has displayed, having become the band’s fastest-selling album to date by a significant margin.

But while Leveler was a commercial and critical success, anyone expecting the band to retread old ground is clearly not familiar with AUGUST BURNS RED. “I think our listeners expect us to try new things and know that each new album won’t be a carbon copy of the previous one,” explains Brubaker. “I believe we managed to write our most diverse record to date, one that longtime listeners will love, and a record that will hopefully inspire some other bands to try new things and encourage us to continue to push the boundaries in our own music.”

With Rescue & Restore, ABR have proven that it is possible to reshape music in a way that challenges listeners, reinvigorates fans and puts art first. Even if some people don’t realize that music needs to be saved from falling neatly into easily digestible boxes, this band is doing its part anyhow without a hint of cynicism. There’s an earnest sincerity behind AUGUST BURNS RED’s desire to continue to warp the constraints of what it means to be a metal band.

“With every album we want to get better as musicians, as songwriters, as performers. We all genuinely love what we are doing and that is great motivation to always try to improve and expand,” Brubaker says. “I think our best days are still ahead.”

The band grew out of high school practice sessions between guitarist Mike and drummer Matt, filling out the roster with singer Craig and bassist Jared to form blessthefall in 2004. They released a three-track EP in mid-2005 and added guitarist Eric to form their current lineup. Phoenix-area gigs with Greeley Estates and an openly religious orientation got the band local press and a deal with Warner subsidiary, Record Collection. The band then toured with Alesana and Norma Jean across the United States and Canada. Their debut album, His Last Walk, was released on April 10, 2007, to mixed reviews. The band completed the entire 2007 Warped Tour circuit nationwide.
Blessthefall toured with Escape The Fate, LoveHateHero, and Dance Gavin Dance on the Black On Black tour during September and October of 2007.

Blessthefall is apart of From First To Last's fall headlining tour, entitled "RATHER BE SLAYIN' N00BZ" starting November 1st with A Skylit Drive, and Vanna. Then after they'll be going on tour with Silverstein, this tour is their first ever UK and European Tour, with their first UK show at the Colchester Arts Centre on Novemeber 16th 2007.

Labels seem to matter a lot these days; in fact it feels like every week a new subgenere is invented, heralded and, usually, quickly forgotten. Although they were born out of the hardcore scene, for the past five years Boston, Massachusetts' Defeater have challenged the conventions of the genre by crafting music that takes an old-school formula and pushes it in new and ambitious directions without sacrificing an ounce of aggression. Case in point is the band's third full-length Letters Home, the culmination of these efforts and sonic evidence of a band who are at their musical and creative peak.

For Letters Home, Defeater enlisted drummer Joe Longobardi, who proved integral in the writing and execution of the album and also injected the band with palpable energy. "This is definitely the most comfortable I've felt as far as writing music together and a lot of that has to do with Joe," says guitarist Jay Maas—who along with vocalist Derek Archambault, guitarist Jake Woodruff and bassist Mike Poulin—make up Defeater. "Joe is a songwriter straight-up so he understands kick drum should be exactly where it has to be; he's super talented but he's not self-indulgent and he's always evaluating what serves the music overall instead of what's just flashy," he continues.

The writing for Letters Home began when the band returned from Australia last year and Maas—who is a successful recording engineer in his own right that's produced every Defeater album—started compiling dozens of hours of drum tracks which would eventually serve as the foundation for the disc. "I feel like we're all getting better as songwriters and we operate independently as one organism now, so we had a really cohesive understanding of what we wanted to accomplish with this record," explains Maas. "We asked ourselves what we loved about our first couple of records and realized they were a little bit simpler, so we kept that in mind when putting together these songs." From the driving, melodic opener "Bastards" to the relentless attack of "Blood In My Veins" and the carefully controlled chaos of "Rabbit Foot," Letters Home is an album that will inevitably help the band—who will be embarking on the Vans Warped Tour this summer—expanding their fanbase without pandering to their audience.

"We've been writing songs for almost two decades and we like a lot of pop-oriented music so I think as a band Defeater is getting to a point where we can write a record that embodies that while maintaining the honesty that's inherent in the music," Maas explains. "We're still being ourselves, we're just being the best songwriters we can." Lyrically Letters Home sees the band continuing an ongoing narrative about a working-class family living in post World Wold II America, although the story revolves around the patriarch of the family this time around. "I'm not influenced by bands who have done 'concept' albums as much as I'm inspired in a literary sense by writers like J.D. Salinger and Cormac McCarthy," Archambault explains when asked how this concept came together. "I love American Gothic Fiction and I tried to capture the descriptive nature of Salinger in the way that he can make the most boring ten minutes in an apartment the premise for an amazing story because of the way it develops."

Because the album is about a character with a backstory that involves war and destruction, the band knew going into it that Letters Home had to be heavy—and although it has it's unexpected moments of calm before the storm such as the shimmering guitar intro to "No Saviour," for the most part the album is an exercise in catharsis that's mirrored in Maas' production. "I built a new studio that's professionally designed and acoustically treated, so we didn't have to fight any sonic limitations," he explains. "It really made sense to make this a heavier record and by working with Defeater and producing other bands, I was able to take everything I've learned and apply it here in a way that made sense."

Admittedly Letters Home has its share of dark moments (try not getting goosebumps when Archambault sings, "I gave away my faith when I gave my brother a coffin,") but despite the bleak lyrical content there's an overarching theme of hopefulness that permeates the album as well as the band's current outlook as well. "I would say unanimously we're more proud of this album than anything we've ever done so I feel like regardless of how it's received, we feel like 'mission accomplished.'" Maas adds, "At the end of the day it's the five of us playing music together and that's why we got into hardcore in the first place, because there are no rules." Letters Home is much more than a hardcore record, it's a concept album that explores the concepts of loss, family and love in a way that transcends genres and the chances that Defeater take on the album both musically and lyrically will undoubtedly inspire bands who play various styles of music on a visceral and artistic level. But enough talk, Letters Home, was meant to be listened to, so cue up "Bastards" and let the Defeater take you somewhere new yet familiar, where the only limitation is their collective imagination

Beartooth

We're really loud, and like to break stuff.

Fronted by Caleb Shomo (formerly of Attack Attack!) and recently signed to Red Bull Records.

It's heavy. You'll like it.

$25.00

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The Altar Bar

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August Burns Red with blessthefall, Defeater, Beartooth

Saturday, November 2 · Doors 6:00 PM / Show 7:00 PM at The Altar Bar