Artist Of The Week - Anchor & Braille

It's been about three years since we've gotten an album from Anchor & Braille, the indie side project of Anberlin's Stephen Christian, but this week, on July 31st, the band's sophomore album will be released. The Quiet Life is a collection of haunting melodies and catchy percussion, certainly a maturation of sound since 2009's Felt. The Quiet Life is available now in stores and online through Tooth & Nail Records.


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Artist: August Burns Red
Album: Leveler
Release Date: June 21, 2011
Label: Solid State Records

If you've heard one August Burns Red album, you've heard 'em all, right? Wrong! I thought the same thing after I heard the first song released from Leveler, the band's fourth full-length album. I was wrong, as the follow up to 2009's Constellations builds on that, and adds some more new elements to the band's repertoire, and it is a good mix. The guys find a way to make this album fresh, and easy to remember, in a metalcore genre flooded with bands these days. The band has matured a lot since their debut album in 2005, and Leveler certainly shows it.

The guitar work throughout the album is what you've come to expect and love from August Burns Red over the years, and that is some very technical and sharp guitar riffs. Leveler is full of them, and at some points, you can't help but stop and say "oh my!" at how tight and flawless the guitar playing is. If you love fast-paced, get your heart pumping, and fist pounding drums, then this album is for you as well. I am blown away by how good the drumming  is. Maybe I haven't noticed it as much on previous albums, but regardless, the drumming really sticks out to me on this album.

As far as the vocals go, there is only so much that one man can do with his voice, but having said that, Jake Luhrs adds a new dimension to his screams on a few songs. Dustin Davidson (bassist) and Jake trade off vocals on a couple of songs as well, and Dustin even takes on a Mike Hranica (The Devil Wears Prada) type vocal, which is scary good. There are also some parts of songs, such as on "Salt and Light," where it's a full steam metalcore song, and all of a sudden stops into a slower section with some amazing spoken word, and some great guitar playing, before it changes back into a metal song, which kicks you in the teeth, seamlessly.

The experimentation is a theme on Leveler, like on the second track, "Internal Cannon," which starts off with a classic August Burns Red sound, including the good old blast beats, and then goes into an interesting mariachi-type section, and then mixes that sound with the sound earlier heard to just blow the song out of the realm of what you'd expect. However, there are songs like "Poor Millionaire" and "Empire" that are your classic ABR songs, which are still good, but are just what you've come to expect.

Another great way that the band experiments is the expansion of their use of a post-rock/ambient sound to some of the songs, mostly on the second half of the album. It's just refreshing to see this band continuing to grow and revolutionize the Christian metal scene with such greats songs, and lyrics. For a good idea of the ambient vibe, check out the songs "Carpe Diem," "Salt and Light," and "Cutting The Ties."

Overall: August Burns Red have found a way to make a fresh, new album for the metalcore scene, and it's going to make some of you rethink your stance on not just this album, but the band themselves. Going into Leveler, I was not too excited, but after just one listen through the entire thing, it has jumped up on my August Burns Red album rankings, and into my top ten albums of the year. There were so many surprised on this album that I did not see coming, and it kept me wondering what was going to come on the following track and blow me away. I was initially going to rate the album a five or six, but it's higher than that now. Leveler is very good, not the best album I've ever heard, but still a very good, very solid, and enjoyable album from one of the biggest bands in the Christian metal scene today.

Rating: 8/10

Recommended Tracks: "Empire," "Internal Cannon," "Cutting the Ties," and "Poor Millionaire"

Reviewed by Michael Small

  1. Empire
  2. Internal Cannon
  3. Divisions
  4. Cutting the Ties
  5. Pangaea
  6. Carpe Diem
  7. 40 Nights
  8. Salt and Light
  9. Poor Millionaire
  10. 1-16-2011
  11. Boys of Fall
  12. Leveler
(Buy Here)

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