The Best of American Music: August Burns Red

KettleMag, Music, America, August Burns Red, Kealie Mardell
Written by Kealie Mardell

As part of Kettle’s America Season, our music editor asked for our all-time favourite American musicians. Now, this is a tougher challenge than you might expect. ALL-TIME?! This is a title that can’t just be handed out without serious consideration. Unwilling to undertake such a task, I’m kicking things off with my current favourite American band, stuck on repeat since they dropped their latest album.

Hailing from Manheim, Pennsylvania, August Burns Red delivers American metalcore at its best. Last year they signed to Fearless Records, who released their seventh album Found in Far Away Places at the end of June.

The History of August Burns Red  

Taking a step backwards, August Burns Red was founded in 2003 (cue the classic tale of high-school band origins), and released their first EP, Looks Fragile After All, the following year. Three of the founding members have stood the test of time: JB Brubaker (lead guitar), Brent Rambler (rhythm guitar) and Matt Greiner (piano & drums). They are joined by vocalist Jake Luhrs and Dustin Davidson (bass & backing vocals) who have been with the band since 2006.

Fun Fact: There’s a widely circulated, but extremely unverified, tale of the band name. Fan legend has it that Jon Hershey, original vocalist, dated a woman named August who burned alive his dog Redd. Sorry conspirators – the name is just a name and nothing more.  

Looking through their backlog, each album has reached a greater success than its predecessor. From their debut Messengers which reached No. 81 on the Billboard charts, to 2014’s Rescue & Restore which debuted at No. 9.

Often described as empowering and encouraging, their music is an outlet not just for the band themselves but for their fans, echoed through their powerful connections on stage. I saw them at Club Nokia in Los Angeles, and was blown away by their non-stop action and endless energy, which undeniably left a massive impact on the crowds.

Found in Far Away Places

Back to the current day, this eagerly anticipated release is reaching great success within its first month, heading straight to a Top 10 spot and receiving raving reviews. In the build up to the release of Found in Far Away Places, August Burns Red sent out a teaser in April, which came in the form of ‘The Wake’.

‘The Wake’ comes with a message to take care of our little planet – indifference doesn’t help anyone and August Burns Red are tired of it. Speaking to Rock Sound, Brubaker said:

“We wanted to start the record with a bang and this song is a real kick in the mouth. It’s fast and heavy while discussing how our planet is being destroyed by the gross misuse of our resources, and the general apathy of the human race when it comes to caring for the Earth.”

This is one of things which makes August Burns Red such a success – their songs are loaded with a thought provoking and emotive attitude to music. Whether its eco-friendly, or encouraging a sense of self-worth on powerhouse track ‘Identity’, they take a genre that can sometimes fall short in its attempt to fit a mould, and make it mean something.

But don’t be fooled by emotive messages and sentimental lyrics, August Burns Red aren’t afraid to stand up and shout with aggression to rival the best. Whether its family feuds in ‘Broken Promises’ or the invisible plight in ‘Ghosts’.

‘Ghosts’ is one of the stand-out tracks from Found in Far Away Places, featuring guest vocals from A Day To Remember vocalist Jeremy McKinnon. This melodic interlude works surprisingly well with the track, bringing a haunting essence to the album. Demonstrating the potential for some interesting work with clean vocals, this is something I hope to see them explore more in the future.

Track ‘Vanguard’ is receiving a lot of acclaim, as a continuation of fan-favourite ‘Composure’ from their earlier release Messengers, the start of rising success for the band. A comparison between the track sees the concept of dealing with inner-demons, followed by the importance of moving on: “Wave goodbye, as we turn our backs on the past.”

In true August Burns Red style they’re showing their creative side and exploring some out-of-the-box tactics. You’ve got the traditional makings of an impressive metal album (heavy guitars, breakdowns and solos galore) alongside the more unconventional sides of ‘Majoring the Minors’ and ‘Seperating the Seas’.

Building momentum, Found in Far Away Places is an album you will want to listen to from start to finish. Instrumentally and lyrically August Burns Red just continue to grow, taking their fans along with them. Trust me – from that first listen it’s a journey you won’t be looking back on.

Kettle mag, America season