For almost twenty-years, August Burns Red has led the charge in the Metalcore world. With their crushing breakdowns, melodic leads and dual threat vocal attack, they have always stood out from the rest. But when it comes to their live shows, the level of intensity and their lighting schemes on stage is unmatched. Fans have been flocking to their shows since the beginning and the Through the Thorns Tour would be no different. Tonight, they storm Sayersville, NJ with fellow Metalcore outfit We Came As Romans and Hollow Front for a devastating night of music.
Kicking off the night are the four piece from Grand Rapids Hollow Front. These guys lit it up right out of the gate with their crushing tune Comatose. They won me over before the song had even ended. With a myriad of complex leads and roaring vocals, they certainly made their presence known. Hollow Front would also put on a full vocal display between Singer Taylor Tate and Guitarist Dakota Alvarez during a killer performance of Treading Water. I was really blown away by the powerful contrast between the two and really elevated the tone of the song. Hollow Front picked a handful of brutal tracks of their latest album The Price of Dreaming to unleash on the fans and every note sent them into a frenzy. This band will no doubt be tearing up stages as a headliner before long.
The Price of Dreaming
As blue lightning and waves of smoke soak up the stage, We Came as Romans storm the stage to thunderous screams. They waste no time taking the chain off of the war cry Darkbloom. The crowd immediately blew up between fans leaving their feet or engulfing the floor in the pit. The chaos would rage on through Wasted Age, Daggers and another taste of new music with the crushing track Plague. Their intensity literally made me sit back and say “Holy shit” while Bassist Andy Glass takes a break from screams and spins in a circle while his bass levitates around him in mid-air.
Singer Dave Stephens range can drive any song with his roaring vocals or soaring cleans. It’s hard not to see long time singer Kyle running the stage and hearing that signature voice. But for me. One song that always brings it back to those days without a doubt is Hope. Stephens ability to transition from one registry to the other was impressive to say the least. Cold Like War would be another iconic track in the setlist. The adrenaline fueled rhythmic pace set by Guitarist Josh Moore and Drummer Dave Puckett had fans losing their minds in the pit.
We Came As Romans would keep their foot on the gas with Carry the Weight, Learning to Survive and Lost in the Moment. But it would be one of the bands newest singles Black Hole that would wrap up their set. On the recorded version, Dave Stephens would have help from none other than Beartooth frontman Caleb Shomo. Sorry guys, he would not make it tonight. But Stephens and Glass would supply more than enough vocal power to get this crowd through. With the few songs that have been released already, the anticipation is high for the drop of their full length.
Learning to Survive
Tracing Back Roots
Cold Like War
Carry the Weight
Lost in the Moment
And now, it would be time for the lads from Lancaster, PA to file up the stairs to the stage. While they make their way up, the near sold out crowd greets them with deafening chants of “ABR!” under the infamous intro to System of A Down’s Chop Suey. But this time, the band launches into the main riff of the song and totally takes the fans, including myself, by surprise. Their re-imagined version of this classic is nothing short of amazing with its fierce drum work supplied by the maestro himself, Matt Griener and we can’t not mention the clean vocals from Jake Luhrs. A task that fans have been requesting to hear for years.
The band had no problem stacking the top of the set with heavy hitters like Paramount, Invisible Enemy and Beauty in Tragedy. But just as the brutal Back Burner was winding down, you could look out and fans signaling “timeout” Once Luhrs realizes what’s going on, he stops the show immediately and tries to get the crowd to make room for security to get to the downed fan. As security helps them out, the crowd let out a burst of cheers and applause. Luhrs tells the fans “Lets have some fun. But look out for each other.”.
Jake would announce that “This is only the second time we’ve ever played this next one live. And the first was last night. This is Dismembered Memory.”. I was very surprised to hear that this rager never made a setlist since its release on the band’s last record Guardians. But as they say, better late than never.
For the next portion of the set, August Burns Red would unleash a swarm of their heaviest tracks. Starting off the mayhem would be what the band themselves have labeled as “the heaviest song they’ve ever written” with Bloodletter. The song not only delivers one brutal breakdown after another. But would showcase the talents of Bassist Dustin Davidson on lead guitar as he shreds from start to finish. Next, JB Brubaker’s eerie echoing intro riff to the band’s fan favorite Ghosts sets the crowd a blaze at the first note.
Another in the list of colossal breakdown generators is Defender. Every verse is just another small step in the massive build up that leads Jake Luhrs to stand on his riser at center stage as he dispenses the caustic line “Deliver the sentence”. Those three words ignite streams of compressed air across the stage as the entire floor comes alive in a devastating mosh pit. And closing out this round of musical savagery, would be none other than Matt Griener’s percussive masterpiece Composure.
After a short absence from the stage, August Burns Red marches back to deliver a handful of hard hitting tunes. As the opening unfolds, Luhrs tells the crowd “GET UP!”. And when the band collapses into the main verse, the entire floor leaves their feet. While the fans’ cheers still fill up Starland Ballroom, blue lights twinkle like stars into the dark room as Brubaker opens up the eloquent yet brutal Marianas Trench. But August Burns Red would be sure to send this crowd out the doors on a very high note.
While White Washed starts to unfold, Jake Luhrs asks the fans “You know what I want? Do you know what I want? Are you gonna give it to me?”. And on the count of four, they unleash hell. The crowd gave it all that they had in the pit as ABR left it all on the stage, closing out an absolutely killer night of bringing angry music to happy people.
Beauty in Tragedy
Ties That Bind
King of Sorrow