August Burns Red "Phantom Anthem" Album Review

Words by Spencer Prather

When one talks about influential metalcore bands, it’s virtually impossible not to have August Burns Red in the conversation. Ever since the release of their first album Thrill Seeker back in 2005, the crew of vocalist Jake Luhrs, guitarists JB Brubaker and Brent Rambler, bassist Dustin Davidson and drummer Matt Greiner have carved out their own place in metal, coming out with six more albums of intricate riffs, fast-paced drumming and gritty vocals; and as they put out number eight with Phantom Anthem, it doesn’t look like the train is stopping anytime soon.

Beginning with the crushing “King Of Sorrow”, the tone is quickly set for the album; in other words, letting the listener know that there’s a lot of headbanging on the table for them. A balance is found between the chugging guitars and instrumental interludes not unlike a lot of songs off the band’s 2013 release Rescue & Restore, such as on the aforementioned opener, “Lifeline”, and “Generations” as some examples. The anthemic, fist-pumping vocals that fans have come to know and love from Jake Luhrs abound on this album; from his menacing bellow of “we will show no mercy” on “Hero Of The Half Truth”, or the rallying “be scared or be brave; memories are everything” on lead single “Invisible Enemy”, it’s clear that the band has not left their roots behind just yet.
With other notably great tracks such as “Coordinates” (and the phenomenal speed of Matt Greiner), some particularly brilliant guitar work on “Dangerous” (plus quite the formidable breakdown); and if one isn’t inspired to get up and grab life by the horns after listening to “Float”, a pulse check or two may very well be in order. Listeners are taken on a great ride with Phantom Anthem, and as it closes out with the equally-as-energizing “Carbon Copy”, it’s hard to put this album down and not feel ready to take on the world.

August Burns Red as a band has definitely formed their own unique plan of attack when it comes to metal after all this time going at it, and they don’t stray away from it very much during this album; this, admittedly, may turn off some listeners that aren’t subscribers to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. If, however, fans are in the market for a good old-fashioned headbanger, August Burns Red hasn’t failed in that endeavor; and with Phantom Anthem, they’re not going to start now. In a time of year where the metal scene is pumping out some great material from many different bands, this one is a must-buy.

Favorite Track: "Float"