Sound — 5
Welp, it's August Burns Red. That we can be sure of. The follow up to 2009's "Constellations" is here, aptly named "Leveler". The album is almost exactly what you'd expect from August Burns Red at this point; fast drumming under pedal tone riffs, odd meter breakdowns, arpeggio leads rang out behind chugs, the whole nine yards. The album begins as "Empire", with a signature August Burns Red pedal tone riff... Almost eerily similar to the one found smack dab in the middle of "Up Against The Ropes" from 2007's "Messengers". Right here is where I start to worry. The riff similarities aside, it is obvious that the guys are trying to add some new elements to the formula. The Latin-esque interludes on "Internal Cannon" and the one smack dab in the middle of "Carpe Diem" (which sounds like no other ABR song I've ever heard) are a nice change of pace, but some come off more as pretentious and forced than they do genuine and inspiring (sometimes even meaningless and unnecessary; see "1/16/2011") Overall, the August Burns Red formula is still here, with a couple of new tricks thrown in. August Burns Red have all the potential in the world to become one of the best metalcore bands of our generation, but these old dogs continue to use their same old tricks. August Burns Red are still writing on their same old level on "Leveler", and a few clean parts and interludes aren't changing that.
Lyrics — 9
The main reason I keep coming back to August Burns Red are the lyrics. While most Christian bands can write stuff that is insanely preachy, August Burns Red write some of the most genuine lyrics I've ever read. Uplifting and meaningful as always here on "Leveler". Frontman Jake Lhurs has turned up the intensity to 11 for "Leveler". His vocals are as dominating and as brutal as ever, but then some. He has quite a bit of new found range as he displays in "Carpe Diem", "40 Nights".
Overall Impression — 6
Like I said before, it's August Burns Red for sure. It hasn't blown me away, and it shouldn't blow you away either. For the August Burns Red loyal, it will be a wet dream, but for fans of seeing artists progress and evolve, you'll be severely disappointed. August Burns Red come up short this time, creating another similar sounding album throughout (not to mention similar to their older albums). Highlights of the album: "Empire" chorus, "Salt & Light" chorus, "Carpe Diem", 2nd interlude in "Internal Cannon", leads in "Boys Of Fall".