Erupting dramatically in popularity from a rookie act to a band now acknowledged by countless thousands of metal listeners everywhere as a favorite, August Burns Red's extraordinary Solid Sate debut Thrill Seeker almost immediately yielded them as a paradigm in the world of heavy music. And it is with such high esteem that they proudly release the next chapter of an already promising legacy.
Messengers sweetly satisfies the mounted expectations and even seems to somehow surpass the standard they set in 2005. Absolutely phenomenal musicianship from each section of the band makes them stand out among the many other artists present in their genre that aren't so elite. Every song brings an onslaught of tight, technical, engaging breakdowns intricately compounded together with impassioned yelling and screaming vocals in an unremittingly heavy and fast-paced sequence that often persists beyond four minutes in track length.
The easily interpretable lyrical content of the album is about as heavy as the music. "Back Burner" addresses the emptiness of worldliness, "smile because you've got it all, still that empty feeling won't go away." "Composure" is about pulling yourself together and moving on from what you can't change, "wave goodbye to the past / you've got your whole life to lead / it's time to gain some ground." "The Eleventh Hour" (the instrumental online Christamas 2006 demo redone with words) urges acceptance of the Truth, "you can turn off all of your senses, but in the end you'll see nothing stands between a man and his Maker." Practically every song provides substantial meaning and, oftentimes, spiritual wisdom. The record comes to a very powerful end with "Redemption," which is basically an honest prayer to God expressing praises, the need for grace, and the desire to be His servant.
This album is strikingly close to perfection, yet still there are a couple of slight gripes to be mentioned. The formulaic sound and feel of Messengers remains generally the same all the way through and is also almost identical to that of Thrill Seeker. So, although each song is a wonder by itself, the listener may find that after a time the music loses some impact, becomes repetitive, and possibly even insipid. It would be nice to hear some variation and experimentation with new sounds in the future. Also, the album art is pretty lame in comparison to the fascinating work in Thrill Seeker's booklet.
Apart from those minor complaints though, Messengers is a huge sophomore follow up that really establishes August Burns Red as a modern metal archetype with staying power. God bless them as they influence both secular and Christian venues with their music and message.- Review date: 11/21/07, written by Tim Harro
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