Sound — 9
August Burns Red is probably one of the leading bands in the over-saturated metalcore genre, and in their latest release Constellations prove that being leader is no reason to compromise their sound. The drumming is still ear pounding, the guitar riffs and melodic licks are in abundance, and the vocals retain their ferocity. One area ABR have toned down in, however, is the breakdowns. Unlike Messengers, breakdowns are few and far between and now only inserted when it fits the song rather than just to conform to the metalcore song structure. Some of the more vigourous fans might find this disappointing, but it leads to an album that can be listened from start to finish rather than in chunks. The progression of Constellations has also improved, lending itself to the introduction of several guitar solos on the album (check out Existence), jazz influenced breaks (Ocean of Apathy), and quiet instrumental interludes (Marianas Trench). Most notably is the break from metalcore altogether in the post-rock/metal influenced track Meridian. Overall ABR have taken one step forward in their sound as a band, and though they still seem timid to fully experiment beyond the limits of the metalcore genre, this album is definitely a step up from Messengers.
Lyrics — 8
One place that has not changed for ABR has been the vocals. To me personally I prefer their new vocalist to their Thrill Seekers-era vocalist, but biased opinions aside, there is no question that their lyrics are reminiscent of all other ABR releases. Religion, repenting, dealing with daily issues, all are contained as lyrical messages within Constellations. Quondam with the rapid-fire vocals and their brutal delivery, ABR has definitely not lost touch in this department over the other progressions taken on this album.
Overall Impression — 9
Constellations is the new standard bearer for ABR, and for good reason. Although still defined by the metalcore genre and other bands present within it, ABR have made several leaps and bounds over their previous release of Messengers. The progression and experimentation in sounds has led to a unique sound among metalcore, and wtih the toning down of breakdowns an album that can truly be listened to from start to finish. Any fan of metalcore (if not already picking this up) should check this out, along with the general metalheads (it was how I discovered this band). There is a good bet that you won't be disappointed.