Context: workplace listening
This is not my first time with August Burns Red, being primarily familiar with their albums Thrill Seeker (2005) and Constellations (2009). A friend of mine told me they were on tour, which turned out to be a Messengers ten-year anniversary tour. I figured I should give the album a listen before purchasing a ticket to see them, because if that album was trash there would be no reason to go to the tour (my guess is they will play the album in it’s entirety as is standard for these things these days).
Messengers sits pretty much exactly where you’d expect being where it is in the band’s discography. It continues much of what Thrill Seeker accomplished in terms of it’s raw energy and musicianship, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They don’t seem to be worried about exceeding whatever excitement or success Thrill Seeker gave them and continue on the path of brutality they had laid before themselves.
Where this album does begin to sag, however, is it seems to not make a stand for itself, if that makes any sense. Constellations saw the band begin to experiment with softer, building intros like in “Mariana’s Trench,” whereas this just continues to go straight for the jugular. Many will find/have found this to be a pleasing thing, and who am I to take away your fun? The downside to this lack of sonic expansion is that it’s easy for tracks to wash themselves out as it becomes more fast riffage, more heavy breakdowns, and more guttural throat screaming. Most people would say that’s a good thing, and it largely is, but the album has a bad habit of quickly becoming background noise as nothing immediately jumps out and demands attention. To me at least.
I like ABR and hope their latest efforts at least hold up to the standards set forth in Thrill Seeker and maintained here in Messengers. I just hope they find a way to vary their sound enough that the tracks have a life of their own.