August Burns Red
August Burns Red is a Christian metalcore band that’s playing at Rocketown. You can probably base your decision on whether or not to go to this show on that alone. But if you find yourself in the naysayer camp, know this: August Burns Red have their fist-pump-worthy moments. Those moments are pretty much exclusively tied to the guitarists being a lot more imaginative than pretty much every other metalcore band that plays Rocketown. Admittedly, it’s a low bar. They still roll out those brainless pit-baiting breakdowns that serve as the benchmark for “heavy” in this scene, plus there are the oh-so-tortured journal entry lyrics, but occasionally August Burns Red leave the mall and run to the hills. New album Rescue & Restore lets the New Wave of British heavy metal influences creep in a little more, and glimmers of prog-metal peek through that are a much better fit for their chops.
August Burns Red
Lancaster PA | Rock
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.”
Phoenix AZ | Rock
A leading force in the metalcore genre, Arizona quintet blessthefall have spent years taking their message globally; each body of work more impressive than the last. Their last album Awakening(2011) achieved their best sales to date hitting #32 on the Billboard Top 200. Noted as Alternative Press' Most Anticipated album of 2013, the band commissioned producer Joey Sturgis (Asking Alexandria, The Devil Wears Prada, Of Mice & Men) to record new album Hollow Bodies. Never before recruiting outsiders, the band enlisted the help of friends to feature 3 guest vocal spots on Hollow Bodies, including Jake Luhrs of August Burns Red, Jesse Barnett of Stick To Your Guns, and electro-rock sensation Lights. The band is currently on the entire Vans Warped Tour for their main stage slot, adding to an already impressive tour resume that includes runs with As I Lay Dying, Avenged Sevenfold, Bullet For My Valentine, and August Burns Red. Throughout the album's 11 charging tracks, Hollow Bodies is blessthefall's reinvigorating approach to an already impressive catalog and career.
Beau Bokan (lead vocals)
Eric Lambert (guitar)
Jared Warth (bass/vocals)
Matt Traynor (drums)
Elliott Gruenberg (guitar)
Boston MA | Alternative
Defeater is a band recognized not only for their obvious musical talent, but also for their social awareness and environmental activism in a musical landscape plagued with insincerity and complacency. The Massachusetts-based band formed two years ago with the premise of utilizing a musical platform for good; whether it be starting an environmentally conscious company or writing albums about oppression and equal rights. With one full-length release under their belt (2008's Travels) and an EP on the horizon (Lost Ground, in stores November 17, 2009), Defeater is once again releasing a musically precise and genre-bending album that will redefine the term "forward-thinking music".
In early 2008, Defeater got together and teamed up with Topshelf Records to release their debut full-length titled Travels. Printed on 100% recycled materials, Travels was the first conceptual (and environmentally-friendly) piece from the band, unique in that each song read as a narrative chapter from a novel while creating an embellished piece of fiction set in post WWII America in a broken home. The release of Travels caught the attention of fans, labels, and press alike with Punknews.org hailing it as "a new artistic peak for hardcore." With unrelenting buzz and critical acclaim surrounding the band, Defeater and Bridge Nine Records partnered up to re-release Travels all over the world in September of 2008. This re-release saw the band touring across the United States with the likes of Energy and End of a Year, across Europe with Comeback Kid, and throughout the UK with labelmates Polar Bear Club and Ruiner. Guitarist Jay Maas said, "The biggest highlight for us touring on Travels was meeting people around the country and world that have really connected with our music and/or lyrics. It's weird how every now and then you can affect and impact a little pocket of people without knowing it. It's a great surprise when that happens."
Fast forward to 2009 and Defeater geared up to write and record their second conceptual release titled Lost Ground. A six song double 7", this EP was written in a similar narrative style to Travels following a man's journey from enlisting in the military to post-war life (the same man that listeners were introduced to on track 6 of Travels: "Prophet in Plain Clothes"). The writing process took several months, but "the refining and changing of songs and structures continues until the very last moment of recording. Nothing is ever done", said Maas. The band spent the latter end of the summer tucked away at Getaway Recording Studio with producer/Defeater guitarist Jay Maas recording the new album. Maas commented on pulling double duty on the record as guitarist and producer by saying, "It's nice to be behind an idea all the way from it starting in your mind to actually shaping the way it will be heard as a final product, at the same time there is a certain level of hair loss due to the overwhelming level of stress I tend to put upon myself. Recently a friend of mine went shopping for a belt and she complained that no matter where she looked she couldn't find one because she already invented the belt she wanted in her head. Recording your own record is a lot like that. When the snare doesn't sound exactly liked I thought it would when I dreamed up the record for the last year I have to do everything I can to sleep at night."
The members of Defeater oftentimes work in various capacities around the band, as Maas is a hardcore impresario/producer of high profile bands such as Bane, Verse, Shipwreck and his own band at his self-operated Getaway Recording Studio, while drummer Andy Reitz is co-owner of a company called Greenvans. Greenvans is a van rental company that operates a fleet of Ford diesel vans converted to run on waste vegetable oil and bio-diesel. Each van is tour ready with a trailer included in the rental fee, specifically designed to appeal to touring bands. By renting a veggie oil powered van from Greenvans, a band saves thousands of dollars in fuel costs, not to mention the planet. When touring the country, Defeater travels in a Greenvan, ensuring that they always do their part. This will absolutely be the case as the band tours the world in support of the Lost Ground EP.
Lost Ground contains six new songs written in an anecdotal style following the homeless man from "Prophet In Plain Clothes" off of Travels. Lyrics were once again written by vocalist Derek Archambault and Lost Ground tells "... the story of how he [the character from "Prophet"] came to end up on that street corner. Lost Ground looks into the difference between how different races could all go to war fighting and dying for this country yet not all be treated with equal rights as citizens upon their return, and what kind of effects that inequality can have on a an honest person," said Maas. This story-like approach to lyrics is another attribute of Defeater that sets them apart from many of their contemporaries. While incredibly introspective, Defeater's lyrics don't necessarily touch on lyrical standards and cliche's like lost love or heartbreak. Maas went on to say, "I don't feel like our lyrics are less introspective than anyone else's, it's just the words are reflective of people that aren't us. There are a lot of our personality and experience laced inside of our characters but what I really like is the ability to write a compelling story that is full of emotional honesty yet retains total creative freedom."
A much more melodic and dynamic album than previous efforts, Lost Ground is set to a volatile soundtrack of hardcore fury, punk melody, and metal technicality while the band explores some cleaner and bigger-sounding dynamics. Defeater has a lot to live up to on this EP since their debut received such stunning praise as "the perfect definition of modern hardcore" by Lambgoat.com and "... emotive hard hitting hardcore that crashes you like waves during a typhoon" by ScenePointBlank. And the Lost Ground EP does more than live up to Travels; it transcends it. Look for Lost Ground in stores on November 17th from Bridge Nine Records and catch Defeater at CMJ Music Marathon on October 22nd and on tour across the United States thereafter and throughout 2010.
Columbus OH | Rock
Delivering aggressive, no-frills metallic hardcore of the highest caliber, BEARTOOTH crash land on the heavy music landscape with the appropriately titled SICK EP, masterminded by young veteran/ multitalented instrumentalist/producer/songwriter Caleb Shomo.
Since executing vocals, guitar, bass, drums and programming in his studio, Shomo assembled some of his Midwest crew to form the live incarnation of the rapidly ascending outfit, putting a physical personification to the music rattling around inside his head.
Beartooth's relentless determination, exceedingly connective performances and hard won respect amongst their peers has resulted in an extremely powerful new band who has only begun to get started. It's a startlingly refreshing return to form for modern Metalcore, a back-to-basics exploration of dark emotions within a framework of heaviness.
Beartooth songs are jam-packed with the passion, energy and urgent excitement of the underground Metalcore that emerged over two decades ago, projected through the lens of men who are still in their early twenties but have packed a lifetime of experience into their careers. Beartooth is a wakeup call, a rallying point against scene trends that have watered down the vibrant spirit of a classic sound; there is nothing fake about the sentiments on display. It's real. It's raw. Driven by the gritty sounds of guitar, bass, drums and forcefully deliberate vocals, Beartooth's opening salvo delivers undeniable anthems.
"I Have a Problem," "Go be the Voice," "Pick Your Poison" and "Set Me on Fire" confidently announce Beartooth's arrival to the world via an aural assault that viscerally connects in a way that is primal and destructive. There is no distinction between the band and their audience. They are one. Beartooth serves up arrestingly personal musings that act as conduits to their fans, the people who struggle with the same issues.
The best bands are often birthed by the most modest of intentions. No master plan, no blueprint for success, no marketing strategies - these are the types of groups whose organic formation ensures an authenticity to their creative output that can't be manufactured. When all of the stars align and the material is fully executed, it's groups like Beartooth who ultimately dominate against pretenders to the throne.
Caleb Shomo has gone through more as a songwriter, performer and producer in just a few short years than some music industry veterans will witness in a lifetime. His early excursions under the DJ Club moniker included a collaboration with Max Green (Escape The Fate) and Craig Mabbit (Escape The Fate, Blessthefall, The Word Alive) - no mean feat for a super young kid forging an identity in suburban Ohio. At 15, he took on programming and keyboards for pioneering/controversial scene sensations Attack Attack!. When Austin Carlile (now in Of Mice & Men) left the group, Shomo took over on the brutal side of the band's vocals for the Attack Attack!'s self-titled second album, which debuted at #1 on Billboard's indie chart. By the time Attack Attack! unveiled their third album, This Means War, Shomo was handling all of the vocals and programming and had graduated to fulltime producer, as well.
Battling mental health struggles with depression, anxiety and related overindulgence (like many of his young fans), Shomo bowed out of Attack Attack! to get himself together. He quickly reemerged as the EDM entity CLASS. The positively pissed off, positively loud Beartooth began as something done for diversionary fun, but rapidly became very "real."
Driven by a fondness for modern "lifer" hardcore acts like Terror but equally inspired by everything from The Ramones to Queen, Beartooth is the product of everything that has subconsciously filtered through Shomo. He doesn't make a plan when he goes in to write, he just unleashes whatever comes out of him. That's how the band formed, too.
Producer, songwriter and Goldfinger guitarist John Feldman is something of a kindred spirit for Shomo, working with genre defining bands like The Used, Atreyu, Good Charlotte and Black Veil Brides and helping to sell over 34 million albums around the world. In his role as A&R for Red Bull Records, Feldman reached out to Shomo about lending his songwriting, production and performance talents to the emerging music brand. Over a smooth and natural evolution, Beartooth was off and running, making plans to record and tour as a genuine band, leaking songs on YouTube to tons of views, hand crafting unique physical EPs.
This new EP represents Caleb Shomo's heart committed to record, in a way that's raw, naked, honest and exceptionally relatable. That emotional catharsis, playing itself out via heavy music, is as much an escape for the multitalented frontman as it is for those who consume it.
Take a dive into the mind, take a journey into complicated issues, emerge refreshed and energized. Put on Beartooth and enjoy the ride.
-Ryan J. Downey