It’s been a long road for them but since August Burns Red picked up a Grammy Award in 2016 they have been universally known as the biggest metal outfit in the world at the moment. Of course, that title alone puts a lot of pressure on a band so you can only wonder what it was like for them heading into the studio to record their latest album – Phantom Anthem. In a way, anything but a perfect album would have the naysayers coming out in droves.
Luckily August Burns Red are a band mature enough to be able to cope with all of that and what they deliver here is pretty much as close to perfect as you will ever get. The progression with their sound is there for all to hear. From the opening track ‘King Of Sorrow’ you soon see that August Burns Red is a band that knows you can be brutal but still mix up your sound a little as well. The slowed down piano parts of ‘King Of Sorrow’ is the kind of the thing that separates August Burns Red from all the other bands that want their title and once again it makes for something special here.
‘Dangerous’ then begins with a moody opening before the more traditional August Burns Red sound kicks in with some flamenco sounding guitar in there to break things up yet again. You know that you are onto a winner though with Phantom Anthem when Carbon Copy begins. It has a crazy guitar and drum sounds to it but is so good that it has single written all over it. Anyone that hears this song and then doesn’t want to go out and buy the album is simply an idiot.
The amazing guitar work of JB Brubaker and Brent Rambler really comes to the fore during the aggression of ‘Hero Of The Half Truth’ which also contains an amazing prog rock section as well. Throughout the album, August Burns Red are always willing to try to do something a little differently. ‘The Frost’ sees a slight electronic sound creep into the album, while the cruisy guitar playing on ‘Lifelines’ again brings something different to the table. Then there is the amazing ‘Invisible Enemy’ which has a very Eastern feel to the opening before the amazing vocals of Jake Luhrs kick in.
Phantom Anthem is an album where the band behind really brought their A-Game. No matter what they do on this album it works – from the sheer brutality of ‘Generations’ through to the Gothic choir on ‘Coordinates’ nothing ever seems out of place. What everybody will be talking about with this album though is the guitar work – from addictive riffs on ‘Quake’ through to the sheer amazing sound created on ‘Float’ this is something that the band needs to be proud of.
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