Sound — 9
Alright so I'm going to go ahead and say it, August Burns Red is my favorite band, but I'm going to try my absolute hardest not to be biased in any way. First off, "Leveler" is my favorite album by the band to date. It's got some songs that are heavier than anything they've ever written, some songs that are more melodic than ever before, and some that are in between. One thing is for sure with all the songs is that they are all packed full of emotion. The band also tries things in Leveler that aren't typical metalcore, which in my opinion works pretty well but not 100% of the time. I've noticed some people have been complaining about the production quality, but in my opinion it's fantastic. Everything is very well balanced and nothing is too overpowering, and you can actually hear the bass! In "Constellations" my one complaint with the production quality were the guitars, they weren't as full sounding as Messengers, but in this album the guitars sound fantastic! 01. "Empire": A great way to start the album. A nice mix of heaviness with melody. The main highlight of the track for me is the group singing, it fits so well and adds so much to the song. This track also has a great solo and ends with a great breakdown. 02. "Internal Cannon": This song, along with "Carpe Diem" are probably the most daring of the album. This song features a few salsa-esque interludes, which I honestly didn't care for too much, to me they were just too out of place, but the guitar solo right afterward totally makes up for it, the wah pedal in it sounds way cool. I would have to say it is my favorite guitar solo in the album. 03. "Divisions": This song was a standout track for me for a few different reasons, first off, it is a lot different than any song they have written previously. It starts out with some drums and then the guitars come in strumming a chord and it sounds almost like something Underoath would write. Secondly it has one of my favorite riffs in the album at 0:46. Lastly this song conveys so much emotion from beginning to end, especially toward the end when Jake screams, "I made you carry the casket of an innocent man when it should have been me". 04. "Cutting The Ties": I really enjoy the riff JB plays during the intro of this song. This song is has a small clean interlude followed with Jake saying a few spoken words. The breakdown toward the end of this song really stood out too me, it's pretty dang heavy. The riff right after it is also really cool sounding too, makes for a good end to the song. 05. "Pangaea": JB and Brent went all out in this song. This song is a great mixture of techinality with melody. The solo in this song is definitely a highlight. The lyrics of this song are also a pretty cool concept, it's about missing someone across the ocean and asking Pangaea what it has done. 06. "Carpe Diem": This song is kind of like "Leveler"'s "Meridian". I love the concept it has of using Jake and Dustin as two different people communicating with each other. The song is a lot more chord based than one would expect from ABR. The song definitely isn't my favorite on the album but I love lead guitar(s) at the end of the song (I'm sure most of you have figured out I'm a guitarist by now). 07. "40 Nights": This song is just okay to me. There was nothing that really kept my attention too much until the end when a nice breakdown comes in and Jake screams, "Goliath, we're screaming your name. Goliath, we're coming for you". 08. "Salt & Light": This song was one of my favorites. It's definitely a more melodic song and it gives off that same sort of happy vibe that "Meddler" gave off on their last album. My one complaint for this song was a spoken word section. Jake just doesn't have the right voice for that in my opinion, it wasn't terrible but it just kinda catches your attention. The ending brings in yet another group vocal part singing, "We sing for You". I really enjoyed and kind of wish it went on a little longer honestly. 09. "Poor Millionaire": One of the heaviest songs on the album. Matt Greiner dominates on the drums on this song. This song is full of breakdowns for all you breakdown lovers out there. The highlight is the breakdown at the end where Jake screams, "Coward. Coward. Where is the life in the life you led?" 10. "1/16/2011": Full on filler track. I was pretty let down by this song. Yeah it's pretty, but it's only 52 seconds. It doesn't feel like too much effort went into it. 11. "Boys Of Fall": Awesome awesome awesome song. Full of beautiful guitar work. There is a beautiful solo that goes straight into a heavy breakdown with Jake screaming, "He is God, we are just men, who are we to question?" This song has my favorite outro on the album. I can't even describe it, you just have to listen to it. 12. "Leveler": In my opinion the heaviest song on the album. Definitely a standout track for me. Full of heavy breakdowns with Jake getting his voice lower than ever. I just wish this song wasn't the ending track, I think "Boys Of Fall" or "Salt And Light" would have been better ending tracks. The ending of this song and album is just too abrupt for me.
Lyrics — 9
Jake kicks butt on this album. He has such a wide range and really shows what he can do on this album. He portrays the emotions in his screaming that the lyrics are bringing fantastically. He sure can write lyrics too. He uses loaded words that just make the breakdowns that much heavier. For example on, "Empire", during the breakdown he screams, "Skyscrapers, Earth Movers, Ground Breakers". The one complaint is what I already said, I wasn't digging the spoken word stuff too much.
Overall Impression — 9
August Burns Red stepped it up with "Leveler". They've come very far as a band, and show no indications of slowing. I can't even imagine what their album would be like. It's going to be hard to top "Leveler". Almost all of the songs on this album are impressive, but the best of the best in my opinion are: "Divisions", "Salt & Light", "Boys Of Fall", and "Leveler".