Death Below

rating icon 9 / 10

Track listing:

01. Premonition
02. The Cleansing
03. Ancestry (feat. Jesse Leach)
04. Tightrope (feat. Jason Richardson)
05. Fool's Gold in the Bear Trap
06. Backfire
07. Revival
08. Sevink
09. Dark Divide
10. Deadbolt
11. The Abyss (feat. JT Cavey)
12. Reckoning (feat. Spencer Chamberlain)

Lancaster, Pennsylvania's AUGUST BURNS RED have been a household name in the metalcore scene for more than two decades. Beginning with 2005's "Thrill Seeker", produced by KILLSWITCH ENGAGE's Adam Dutkiewicz, and continuing through subsequent releases, the band has built a solid name both as expert songwriters and incredible live performers.

Now, more than 20 years later, AUGUST BURNS RED are still influencers in metalcore, and they don't appear to be going anywhere. That's a good thing, as their tenth studio album, "Death Below", marking the follow-up to 2020's "Guardians", is one of the band's most imaginative and unique to date.

AUGUST BURNS RED kick "Death Below" off with an under 2-minute intro, titled "Premonition", before launching into a 7-minute rager, the progressive "The Cleansing". The latter features sharp riffing, guzzling rhythms and mosh pit-worthy breakdowns, as well as some softer, more melodic sections, which make listening to "The Cleansing" a delightful whiplash of sorts.

Throughout "Death Below", one highlight is the album's plethora of special guests. Jesse Leach of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE appears on "Ancestry", a thrashy, frantic number with a moving chorus. Another metalcore icon, Jason Richardson of ALL THAT REMAINS, BORN OF OSIRIS and CHELSEA GRIN fame, contributes sky-high solos on the explosive track "Tightrope".

Elsewhere, JT Cavey of ERRA and formerly TEXAS IN JULY offers up death metal vocals on "The Abyss", and Spencer Chamberlain, of former Solid State Records labelmates UNDEROATH, helps close the album out with the huge-sounding, breakdown-heavy "Reckoning". As for top songs, the 5-minute "Dark Divide" is an instant standout, presenting dark, brooding atmospheres, regal guitars and thick death metal vocals as it shifts in style and structure throughout.

Offering both brawn and brains, AUGUST BURNS RED maintain their status as metalcore behemoths on the uncompromising "Death Below", one of the heaviest and most experimental sets of their careers.

Author: Anne Erickson
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