A little while ago I gave my first impressions of the lead singles from August Burns Red’s new offering Phantom Anthem. Now that the full album has been dropped on our heads, I couldn’t resist giving my thoughts on the full album. So here we go, August Burns Red’s 7th album.
Right off the bat we’re welcomed by trademark ABR on “King of Sorrow,” their best opening track since “Provision” off of 2013’s Rescue and Restore. The interlude about a minute and a half in, filled with clean guitars, drummer Matt Greiner ghost-noting like his life depends on it, and even some choir vocals, is eerie and beautiful.
Honestly this album might be some of Greiner’s best drum work. Not that the man has ever disappointed; he’s long been regarded as one of the better drummers in the metalcore genre so it’s remarkable that he constantly manages to one up himself, not just in technical ability but in creativity. Some of his drum lines on this album are really unique and I would never think to play those.
It’s not just Greiner that sticks out here, though; lead guitar player JB Brubaker also shines on this release. His tapping solos on “Coordinates” and “The Frost” have to be some of the best work of his career. Even outside of his solos, his sheer melody and technical proficiency without compromising heaviness on these tracks is outstanding. He’s always shined in that regard, but he seems to have only gotten better over their 12 year career.
I think my main complaint about the album, if I have to have one, is that not many of these songs are very memorable. Maybe I just need to give it a few more spins, but none of these tracks really jump out at you like “Back Burner” or “Mariana’s Trench.” There isn’t a bad song on this album, but there isn’t a super memorable one here either.
Even with that minor complaint, I still thoroughly enjoyed this album. It’s trademark ABR, albeit a bit more technical and melodic. It’s a stronger album than their last offering Found in Far Away Places. They didn’t experiment as heavily with outside genre influences on this, and I think that played in their favor. It’s balls to the walls heavy and melodic; you have no choice but to head bang to these breakdowns or admire that guitar virtuosity. Just a great album.
Phantom Anthem gets a 4/5.
Check out “Coordinates” here.