The Pitch: One of the last great remaining metalcore bands from my youth, August Burns Red, returns with a new album and doesn't skimp on the prog along the way. Could this be their best album yet? FFO: After The Burial, As I Lay Dying, Poison The Well
What I Like: Phantom Anthem is in many ways the perfect follow-up to Found In Far Away Places. While it isn't quite as adventurous, this album takes the previously applied progressive song structures and makes them the norm. What results sounds more like a hybrid of Constellations and Rescue and Restore with almost every track extended in length and increased in complexity. I generally argue that less is more in the 'core genres, but August Burns Red have proven their longform songwriting capabilities tenfold not only on tracks like "The Frost" and "Invisible Enemy," but consistenly throughout the entire duration. All while still delivering the band's trademark anthemic hooks and soaring choruses.
Starting with these two singles, they are among the best songs the band has ever written. The opening riff and closing vocals on "The Frost" hit me right in the feels, and that guitar tapping hook mixed with the crunchy palm muting on "Invisible Enemy" is beyond infectious. But the deeper cuts never disappoint either. There are extended, jazzy solos on a number of these songs like "Hero of the Half Truth" and "Lifeline," and even a brief reprise of the slide guitar along with some strings towards the end of "Generations." "Dangerous," with it's acoustic sections, also feels like a spiritual sequel to "Majoring in the Minors." But if you're really just looking for more of ABR's patented riffage, look no further than "Quake" or "Float."
Critiques: If I'm really nitpicking, the band could tighten the album up as a whole by dropping and/or rearranging a few songs. While there aren't any duds, but there are a few that could have been bonus tracks. I also think that "The Frost" would make for a more impressive opener. Start with your best foot forward, keep the runtime concise.
The Verdict: Phantom Anthem proves that August Burns Red still have some tread left after all of these years. Not only can they still bring the fire and fury of their previous works; they are also interested in pushing themselves as a band and broadening the scope of their music. I've got my copy...where's yours?
Flight's Fav's: The Frost, Invisible Enemy, Dangerous, Float
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