• Courtney Peterson

Louder Live- August Burns Red at Club Academy, Manchester / 09/12/18

The Club Academy is buzzing as Manchester welcomes back long-standing metalcore band August Burns Red, with support from up-and-coming Wage War and Paris-based Betraying The Martyrs.

First up tonight is Betraying The Martyrs. Their style doesn’t fit neatly into any category, making the set interesting for first-timers. The crowd’s first impression comes in the form of the title track of their latest album, ‘The Resilient’. Instant energy fills the room as the crossover between extreme metal and metalcore sees long hair flying and frontman Aaron Matts’ unclean vocals, both contrasted and complimented by Victor Guillet’s synths and clean singing. This powerful energy continues through two more songs from ‘The Resilient’; Guillet takes the opportunity to move around the stage during ‘Unregistered’ sporting his keyboard on a strap. Fans of the older music get their moment as the pit erupts to ‘Life Is Precious’ from their 2010 debut album ‘Breathe In Life’. Guillet leaves his post once again to scream with Matts and the band and fans jump – because the energy still hasn’t faltered. After one more recent track, they finish up with unreleased ‘Eternal Machine’, combining all the elements that have made this set great and giving a promising insight into what the future could hold for this band.

Wage War follow, having already gained a large fan base and much respect in this scene. Opening with massively heavy track ‘The River’, they provide enough fast riffs and more than enough breakdowns to win over anyone who is somehow unaware of this band. Fans sing along to their melodic choruses, and all the way through clean-heavy ‘Gravity’. Frontman Briton Bond effortlessly gives us some of the best unclean vocals in modern metalcore and maintains control over the pit, and rhythm guitarist Cody Quinstad doubles as an impressive clean vocalist. Unsurprisingly, the response to the last song ‘Stitch’ is the best of the show so far. It blew up immediately after it was released as a single due to the sheer amount of heavy parts to the song, which are all performed with unfaltering energy by the band, with a pit to match as casual listeners and fans alike let go.

Finally, old-timers August Burns Red begin, and their 15 years of experience shows. Even their new songs (which make up roughly half of the set) seem to come naturally to them, and lead vocalist Jake Luhrs somehow makes his microphone wire a useful prop. Fans who are familiar with all the music are instantly lost in it, but those who aren’t completely immersed have the opposite reaction. The band’s synchronicity and minor stage antics seem overly rehearsed, and it’s not until the 8th song, ‘Dangerous’, that their own energy picks up. Before this song, Luhrs warns that they can’t encourage the usual wall of death but they do encourage crowd surfing – and they get it. Security have a hard job of handling the number of crowd surfers who are all trying to high-five the frontman, and this elevates the mood onstage and offstage. Vocals are quiet throughout the set but John ‘JB’ Brubaker (lead guitar) shines with breakdowns, riffs and metal-style solos.

Newer music from their 2017 album ‘Phantom Anthem’ is sonically more mature and leans towards metal, whilst, towards the end of the set, even the previously unresponsive casual watchers can’t help but bang their heads to old metalcore songs like ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Empire’. The latter concludes the main part of the set, but it’s not too long before drummer and founding member Matt Greiner reappears for an impressive drum solo which is met with attention and respect from the warm, tired basement full of fans, and the band soon return with ‘Phantom Anthem’ banger ‘Float’. This is followed by ‘White Wash’, which is by far their most popular track, so the energy is raised one last time before pitters retire from the venue. The set has been lacklustre for the average spectator, but enjoyable for old and new fans alike.

August Burns Red's latest album 'Phantom Anthem' is out now via Fearless Records.

Check out the new video for 'Dangerous' below:

Connect with all the bands on this tour via Twitter:

August Burns Red: @abrband

Wage War: @WageWar

Betraying the Martyrs: @MartyrsTweets

#augustburnsred #wagewar #betrayingthemartyrs #louderlive #livereview #metal #metalcore