Friday, January 23, 2015

August Burns Red at Irving Plaza

Jake Luhrs
August Burns Red formed in 2003 when all five original members were attending high school in Manheim, Pennsylvania. The Christian metalcore band practiced in the drummer's old egg house on his family's farmland. Eventually, the band played shows around nearby Lancaster and recorded an EP in 2004. August Burns Red has released six studio albums, including a Christmas album; the most recent, Rescue & Restore was released in 2013. August Burns Red presently consists of vocalist Jake Luhrs, lead guitarist JB Brubaker, rhythm guitarist Brent Rambler, bassist Dustin Davidson and drummer Matt Greiner.

As the house lights dimmed inside Irving Plaza, the crowd cheered "A-B-R," strobe lights over the stage revealed that the musicians were taking their places and Greiner began pounding a rhythm. The remaining musicians kicked in and Luhrs began growling the lyrics to "White Washed." Fifteen songs performed in about 75 minutes meant that none of the songs were very long, but what happened within each song was epic. No song kept a straight or standard composition; all the songs weaved through odd meters, changeable paces, twists and turns or heavy breakdowns. Fast and furious, the technical riffing was blistering. Unlike other metalcore vocalists, Luhrs did not mix clean vocals with his high and low-pitched guttural howls. August Burns Red performed many of its signature songs, including "Thirty and Seven", "Marianas Trench", "Meridian" and "Composure", but also several songs that were rarely played live in the past, including "The Eleventh Hour" and "Up Against the Ropes." It seemed like the band never stopped for air, as song followed song in rapid succession. It has been nearly two years since the band has recorded new songs, however, and none were introduced at the concert. The constraints of metalcore in general are somewhat formulaic, to the point where it seems there are only two kinds of growls and a few more types of breakdowns; it will be interesting to see if the creativity continues to flow when August Burns Red leaves the road and enters the recording studio.

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