Marshall McLuhan said, "The medium is the message." In this case, the genre is the message, with few notable departures. You don't pick up a band like August Burns Red if you want to have Happy Flower Nap Time with Mr. Friendlyheart. It's a musical type that follows an ancient tradition of subversion, frustration and malcontent with the status quo.
Hardcore is a genre in the form of the music that has come from the oppressed and enslaved the world over, like the Irish, who fought English occupation for nearly a millennium. Their music, outlawed by the crown, was about suffering, injustice, war, discontent, coming days of freedom and outright rebellion. So it is with hardcore. And August Burns Red marches along this course with gusto.
They have an unmatched brutality that is everything bands like Zao and Norma Jean never quite accomplished. You'll be surprised when you find your head bobbing to some of the grooving riffs scattered throughout the fusillade of ear-splitting metal, but the band accomplishes a nice variety of sound while maintaining an uncompromising sonic assault.
Highlights from the Pennsylvania five-piece's debut are "Speech Impediment," "The Reflective Property," a call to arms of sorts, and the Call of Ktulu-esque instrumental "Eye of the End." Hard and fast is the name of the game, things like thoughtful reflection, touching slow parts, and soft vocals are thankfully left by the wayside in Thrill Seeker's firestorm, albeit a formulaic firestorm. After such a glowing review, I must acknowledge the fact that ABR doesn't actually do anything different musically from every other hardcore band out there, however as I mentioned in the opening, the music is the message, and upon examining their lyrics (which are sadly cynical for a group of guys so young, but hey that's my generation) they are honest, simple and have that emocore diary entry feeling about them.
Guitarist Brent Rambler expounds upon their lyrics in an interview with Dennis of Wise Man Promotions: "It is important to us that people know that we are indeed Christians, which is one of the reasons we pray on stage before we play, usually. We do this because we think it lets people know that we are all Christians, without having us stand up there and ram it down peoples throats. As far as our lyrics go, many of them deal with other things in life, because even though we are Christians, we still deal with the everyday things that everyone else does. However, if you want to interpret all of our lyrics in a Christian manner, then more power to you, we just want our lyrics to come across with some sort of positive message."
Musically, I can't offer enough praise. Songs like "A Wish Full of Dreams" and "Too Late For Roses" show off the talented musicianship. And honestly, though they are sort of a standard-sounding group (barring their incongruous brutality) they have a sound that is way more mature than their age. They've got the sound of a metal band that's been around for a few album releases.
Their music is strong, their message is potent, and they've got a good strong debut album on their hands. 'Nuff said, bub.- Review date: 8/29/05, written by Sean Lex
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