“If ain’t broken, don’t fix it”.
That’s a saying that I think truly sums up August Burns Red’s career in a nutshell. Their tight, rich brand of metalcore has never been faulty, broken, nor has it ever been boring. It’s always been the complete opposite – engaging, tight, heavy, and fun. However, with that being said, the band have rarely ever left their established, warm and cozy comfort zone, save for a few songs here and there, like ‘Internal Canon’ for instance.
Now in 2015, following 2013’s more melodic, narrative driven ‘Rescue & Restore’, ‘Found In Far Away Places’ is an awesome mix of tight, technical metalcore with not only a great ear for melody but with just enough outside influence and experimentation that it’s now a contender for my personal favourite August Burns Red record (‘Constellations’ currently owns that top spot for me).
Sure, it’s still the same-old, same-old from the quintet with shredding leads, bone breaking breakdowns and plenty of fast blast-beat inspired moments, (as opener ‘The Wake’ shows) but it’s these non-metal influences that are not only prevalent throughout the record, they are also king. They’re done in such a perfectly executed manner that it’s hard not to love these moments and wait in sheer gleeful anticipation of what the band will do on the next track.
‘Martyr’ and ‘Everlasting Ending’ both show off the slower, more melodic side of the band in their mid-song instrumentals that are actually quite relaxing and which sound nothing like the usual August Burns Red. ‘Separating The Seas’ has a very Eastern sounding instrumental section that steadily rises in tempo as the distorted guitars re-enter the song’s pleasant atmosphere. ‘Majoring In The Minors’ takes on a very laid-back jazzy timbre, and then there’s the beautifully ambient, serene intro of ‘Blackwood’. Oh, I almost forget about the chugging spaghetti western riff in ‘Identity’ (not unlike The Chariot’s ‘First’) that preludes a rip-roaring guitar solo. Ah, those solos, those guitars solos are so damn good they’ll make your ears orgasm. Case in point: ‘Everlasting Ending’.
The band’s musicianship is impeccable as always and their song writing is just as on key as it ever was. One element that August Burns Red have been utilising since day one is the fact that they don’t write your run-of-the-mill metalcore guitar riffs or you’re a-typical breakdowns. They like to mix things up with not only complex drumming from Matt Greiner and sharp, exciting riffs and leads from the powerhouse duo of JB Brubaker and Brent Rambler. They also tend to steer away from the cheesier clichés of the genre – namely those darn clean, catchy choruses and they generally stick clear of synth. All of which makes them the leader of the pack band that they are today.
Furthermore, for only the second time in the band’s career, this album features a guest vocalist. In this case, it’s for the slow-building ‘Ghosts’, with A Day To Remember’s Jeremy McKinnon (the first time being Between The Buried And Me’s Tommy Giles Rogers on ‘Indonesia’) featuring for what is a really solid guest spot and holy shit, I’ve rambled on for way too long now, let’s wrap this up, hey?
‘Found In Far Away Places’ is arguably one of the best records the band have put out to date, save for my personal favourite, ‘Constellations’, of course. It’s still heavy and it still sounds like August Burns Red, yet with the added ingredients of deeper instrumental experimentation, this 11-track behemoth is by far one of the best releases of the year.
After all, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it – just tweak it a bit and polish that sumbitch till it shines bright.