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August Burns Red at Saint Andrews, 5 Things To Know
August Burns Red is still a young band -- nearly 14 years at this point -- but it's been around long enough to have some significant anniversaries.
That's why the Pennsylvania heavy metal quintet is on the road celebrating the 10th anniversary of "Messengers," its reputation-making sophomore album that was critically acclaimed and the fist of ABR's four No. 1 albums on Billboard's Christian chart. It was also popular enough to spawn a sequel called "Lost Messenger: the Outtakes," featuring seven unreleased tracks from the sessions.
The group has accomplished quite a bit since then, including five more albums -- 2015's "Found In Far Away Places" was a Billboard Top 10 and hit No. 1 on four other charts -- and plenty of duty on the summer Vans Warped Tour. ABR is starting to think about its next project, but for the moment it's enjoying taking a breath to celebrate and deliver the "Messengers" once again...
Guitarist Brent Rambler says the release of "Messengers" "definitely feels like a long time ago" but also "is still fresh in everybody's mind. Obviously to the band the material feels a little bit dated; The album was written 11 years ago at this point, But it's an album that came out at a great time for a lot of people. It's a very nostalgic album for thousands and thousands of people, so for us it's cool to witness that."
Musically, Rambler says ABR's youth certainly fueled the way "Messengers" sounds. "We were really young when we made that album. I can't say we were very musicians at that point," Rambler, 32, explains by phone. "The album is extremely linear, with just part after part after part rather than having cohesive songs. But if was something different back then; Metalcore was very verse-chorus oriented, so for us to come out and just do these linear songs and rip right thought he music was something that was different -- even if it was a sign of how inexperienced we were as songwriters at that point. I mean, you listen to some of the transition on that record and it's like, 'Where the heck did THAT come from?!'"
Playing "Messengers" in its entirety has given Rambler and the rest of ABR a chance to revisit the songs -- and, in some cases be surprised by which have stood the test of time. "There's some songs on that record that I think foreshadowed what we grew into," he says. "The song 'Black Sheep' we all really like playing. And then there's a song like 'The Blinding Light;' None of us thought we would like playing it, and it turns out to be the song we like playing every night, just a fun song to play and really interesting. Both of those songs, when the album came out they weren't big fan favorites but now they're going over well."
ABR has been lumped into a variety of heavy rock genres over the years, from metalcore to melodic metalcore to Christian metal. Rambler and company think it's much ado about nothing, however. "The whole sub-genre thing does get a little ridiculous," he says. "We're a metal band. We play music that's fast and heavy and has screaming vocals -- I think that's pretty much the definition of metal music. If we're to tell anybody on the street or a layman what kind of music we play, I'd say we're a metal band. That's it."
ABR has started working on its next album, with "a lot of words and stuff written and a lot of music written," according to Rambler. The group hopes to hunker down on it later this year, and the guitarist promises it will live up to the band's heavy reputation. "I don't know if pummeling is the right word, but it's definitely very, very, very fast," he says. "The music is very aggressive thus far, and a little less whacky and zany than the last recording. I don't know when it's going to be released but I feel like we've got a lot of good ideas already working."
August Burns Red, Protest The Hero, In Hearts Wake, '68
Wednesday, Jan. 11. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Saint Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit.
Tickets are $23.
Call 313-961-8961 or visit saintandrewsdetroit.com.
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