Heavy metal artists August Burns Red once again prove their skill as musicians and raise the bar for heavy metal/metalcore bands with their new album Phantom Anthem. Since the band’s beginning back in 2003, ABR has shown their merit time and time again with each album that they have released. They hit their stride with their second full-length album Messengers in 2007, which continues to be a staple of respected albums in the genre.
Now with their tenth full-length album being released, ABR shows an entirely new level of artistry and musicianship that it takes to continually be a successful band, standing the test of time and evolving with their fan base while regularly putting out great music.
With Phantom Anthem, ABR has a return to form that calls back to the band’s metal roots and has an emphasis on their musical prowess with varied time signatures while still exploring new territory in the realm of non-traditional hardcore breakdowns.
This album also centers much more on riffs and licks from the band’s guitarists JB Brubaker and Brent Rambler. This is evident on the opening track “King of Sorrow” as an intense guitar lick starts off the album hard and heavy and does not hold back for the rest of the song. The technicality that these two guitarists show through their precision on insanely fast licks proves why they are two of the best guitarists in the metal scene today.
The award for the best track on the album goes to “Quake.” Starting off with another wicked guitar riff from Brubaker that is the driving force to the track, the band uses this track to explore the non-traditional form of breakdowns by not finishing the track with one typical metal breakdown form, but rather, they finish the track with two separate breakdowns and a build up between them. This seems like breakdown overkill in some ways, but it is this characteristic that makes this track the best on the album.
Phantom Anthem also shows a new side to front man Jake Luhrs, who shows a different side of his vocals rather than his expert, mid-range screaming. Any fan who listens to the album can recognize Luhrs’ attempt to branch out into other types of screaming, and he does a pretty good job at exploring his range. He emphasizes his low-range screams of tracks such as “Kingdom of Sorrow” and “Float,” both of which show the improvement that he has made in exploring that part of his register. Something new that Luhrs explores in this album is his higher-range screams which are not a usual part of his repertoire or ABR’s style.
Luhrs shows off his potential range well, while showcasing another reason why the band has lasted so long due to their willingness to challenge themselves and grow. If you are a fan of metal or just looking to get into the genre, then this is definitely the album for you.