EXPECT IT: Early summer via Solid State
On Valentine’s Day, metalcore vets August Burns Red entered producer Jason Suecof’s Audio Hammer Studios to record their fourth full-length. “That wasn’t planned around the holiday in the least, as you can imagine,” laughs guitarist JB Brubaker. “That’s purely coincidental.” Not such a coincidence? That the quintet again decided to work with Suecof, who also produced 2009’s Constellations. “We know sonically he’s going to give us the record that we want, and while he is a bit of a zany, crazy guy—like, all over the place, a little A.D.D.—we hit a stride with him in the last couple weeks of doing our last record,” Brubaker says. “We became good friends with him and he figured us out; we figured him out. And it just made sense for us to do it with him again.”
The still-untitled album will have more than 10 songs that lyrically run the gamut. Drummer Matt Greiner wrote a song about how the band’s hometown of Manheim, Pennsylvania, came together after a recent car accident involving four high school students. Vocalist Jake Luhrs’ contributions, meanwhile, tend toward “things that have been frustrating him in his life—whether it be family things or spiritual things,” Brubaker says. “Some of the stuff he’s written, it comes off pretty angry.”
Putting August Burns Red’s new music into words isn’t quite as easy. On the one hand, Brubaker says that it’s “much more melodic” than 2007’s Messengers and it’s “definitely coming out heavier” than Constellations. Still, he observes that it’s also maintaining the latter album’s “dynamic elements… such as clean sections and guitar solos and stuff.”
If anything, Constellations’ desire to push metalcore’s boundaries is even more in the forefront. For instance, the band’s thinking about adding some gang singing—“Not like clean choruses or anything, but just like in the background, like a group of people singing,” Brubaker notes—and so far his favorite song has “almost a classical, clean section” in the middle.
“It’s so awesome,” he says. “Everything drops out except for clean guitars—these two parts are just playing together, and I really like the way it sounds. That picks up into this—I call it the horse-trot part, it almost sounds kind of Western-y. I have aspirations of us whistling over it or something, but I don’t know if everyone’s into that idea or not.
“I realize that might be a part some people listen to and go, ‘Uh, this is so weird and out-there, I hate it, this sucks,’” he adds. “But I think people who are maybe a little more adventurous with their listening will think it’s really cool. We’re not going to do that stuff all over the record—[but] there’s going to be a few moments like that here and there.”
It’s clearly important to Brubaker that August Burns Red continue to challenge the limitations of metalcore, for the simple reason that it’s vital to the creative health of the band. “At this point in my life—and I can probably say the same for most of my bandmates—we don’t listen to a lot of metal, especially metalcore, which is obviously the genre that we’re playing in,” he says. “It’s not one of my favorite styles of music anymore. For me to get excited about what we’re doing, I think we need to bring in new things that aren’t traditionally associated with the genre.
“We enjoy playing [metalcore]—and I really do, I legitimately enjoy what we’re doing,” he stresses. “But I feel like as a whole, it’s a pretty played-out and boring sound. We’re trying to keep it fresh by introducing new elements, and maybe elements of other styles of music that we listen to and like, instead of just playing breakdowns and thrash riffs.”
So far, what they’re doing seems to be working: Brubaker says he hasn’t “been this excited to record in awhile,” even though there has been a bit of anxiety surrounding its genesis. “This is a really nerve-wracking record, because four albums is a lot of material to not become stale as a band, especially if you’re sticking within the same genre,” he says. “But I’m definitely feeling confident with the stuff we’ve written, and I think it’s really good. People are going to like it, even though we’re continuing to broaden our horizons a little bit.” alt