Death Below

Death Below

“We just wrote what felt good to us as artists,” August Burns Red guitarist JB Brubaker tells Apple Music about the Pennsylvania metalcore band’s 10th album. “On our last album, I think we wanted to try and write some songs that were a little bit more accessible to a larger audience. With this one, we decided to just write what comes out.” The title Death Below is taken from a lyric in the album’s final track, “Reckoning.” “We felt like that line encompassed the album really well,” he says. “We wrote it during a dark time—2020 and 2021—when things were not great for most people. So, the album is pretty dark, the artwork is dark, and the mood of the tracks is just darker than what August Burns Red has typically done.” In another atypical move for ABR, Death Below features cameos from members of fellow metalcore bands Killswitch Engage, All That Remains, ERRA, and Underoath. “We’ve wanted to have guests on past records as well, but it just didn’t really work out,” Brubaker explains. “But the stars aligned on this record.” Below, he discusses each song. “Premonition” “Originally, this was written in conjunction with Track 2, ‘The Cleansing,’ as one big 10-minute song, which felt like a bit much to start off an album. So, we split the intro off into a separate track. I really like this one because, historically, August Burns Red has always come out with a bang. Our first song is usually a ripper, so it was a big departure for us to have this brooding, more subdued track. I think it sets the tone for the album.” “The Cleansing” “This is my favorite song on the album. I’m extremely biased here because I wrote the song. I wrote the lyrics, and it was the first thing I wrote during lockdown in the pandemic. This song speaks of this unseen evil or force that’s taking over mankind and just destroying us and the planet. And then there’s this person in the story of the song who rises up and rallies those who have survived into reclaiming the earth and basically conquering this evil.” “Ancestry” (feat. Jesse Leach) “I had no expectation of this being the lead single when it was written, but then Jesse from Killswitch came in and did this guest vocal with a pretty big chorus, which is something August Burns Red doesn’t do very often. He took this song from a technical, pretty long metal track into more of an anthem. We love what he did and felt it was really catchy, so we made it the first single. The song talks about one of our band members who had a close loved one attempt suicide, and the struggle that life event was for him.” “Tightrope” (feat. Jason Richardson) “Jason Richardson is one of our buds, and he’s an absolutely insane guitar player. We had this solo section that Dustin was trying to write a solo over, but he wasn’t feeling it. So, we asked Jason if he wanted to do it, and he busted out this totally ripping guitar solo that really stands out. It’s so over the top, and it just sounds unlike anything else we’ve ever put out. Lyrically, this one was written by our other guitar player, Brent Rambler, and it speaks on setting boundaries and trying to find that balance between work and family.” “Fool’s Gold in the Bear Trap” “This is one of my favorite songs on the album, which is funny because it’s not a typical August Burns Red song at all. It’s almost like a black metal track. It starts off with this clean, subdued guitar section, and then it just goes into this black metal section for the last minute and a half or so with our lead vocalist, Jake Luhrs, and Dustin Davidson, our bass player, going back and forth with the delivery of the lyrics. It’s cool having a different flavor vocally with Dustin on that track.” “Backfire” “Dustin wrote this one, and it’s our second single. I really love how it flows out of the track before it. This is a super metal track; it’s really heavy. I don’t ever want to call us death metal or deathcore, but the song borders on that at times with the way Jake delivers some of the vocals—and some of the breakdowns in the middle. But what I really love about this song is the last minute and a half, where we shift into this black metal section where our drummer Matt is blasting for a minute straight, and then it goes into this huge, anthemic breakdown.” “Revival” “This is more of a classic August Burns Red song. It’s just a battering metalcore track. The lyrics were written by Jake, and they talk about an event in his life that almost cost him everything. He hasn’t really spoken publicly about it yet, but it’s about going from rock bottom and being able to rebuild himself and adopt healthier ways of living and conquering his demons in the process. That’s where the title ‘Revival’ comes from.” “Sevink” “The title is just the word ‘knives’ backwards, which we thought was clever. This song ties directly into the next song, ‘Dark Divide.’ Like the first two songs on the album, they were written together, but we decided to cut the intro off because the track was pretty long. So, this is a little interlude, and it happens again in the middle of the following track.” “Dark Divide” “Lyrically, this song speaks about the division of people. It’s not just our country—it’s all over the world. People have a lot of opinions, and they don’t want to hear the other side. It’s hard to find common ground, politically speaking. The song talks about how that has destroyed progress and our ability to connect with each other. Musically, this song uses a lot of guitar harmonics, which we haven’t really done a whole lot of, and I think it gives the song an interesting flavor.” “Deadbolt” “This is the most classic metalcore track on the album. It’s almost a nod to the past and our older sound. Dustin and I collaborated on this track, and I wrote my parts when we were on the road with Killswitch Engage. They have a really great way of simplifying stuff and making it sound huge, especially with the way their drummer plays that four-on-the-floor kick stuff. I’ll definitely tip my hat to Killswitch for influencing me on this one.” “The Abyss” (feat. JT Cavey) “JT is one of our good friends. We’ve known him for years, since back when he was singing for a band called Texas in July. He’s got a killer voice, and it really fits this song. We actually composed this one mostly in the studio, which is rare for us, and Dustin was the main songwriter on this track. He also was really involved in writing the vocal patterns, and he’s responsible for writing JT’s parts. Then JT came in and knocked it out of the park.” “Reckoning” (feat. Spencer Chamberlain) “I love this song. It’s a really long one for ABR—almost eight minutes. Dustin and I collaborated on this—he wrote the intro riff and the clean interlude in the middle, and I filled in the blanks. Jake recorded all the vocals but left a big section open for Spencer from Underoath to do his thing. Spencer wrote his own lyrics to his section, and we’re super stoked on what he did.”

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