Ahead of their landmark 20th anniversary tour, metalcore titans August Burns Red are set to uncork what frontman Jake Luhrs calls "the most progressive, dark, challenging thing that we've ever released," adding in an interview with Metal Injection, that the trials and tribulations of the past three years have absolutely melted into the makeup of the band's tenth studio effort Death Below.
"It 100% bled into this record. This record would not sound anything like it sounds if the pandemic had not happened, because JB, as he is the main songwriter, and of course Dustin wrote some songs, too. But I mean, they were both locked down. And I think JB had some personal things going on in his life that really shook him and had him kind of in a place of growing, right? Like I said, a lot of times we grow in the most uncomfortable circumstances. And so he went through quite a bit and myself included, went through some family issues.
"'Ancestry' is really about a family member of mine trying to commit suicide and kind of how I was trying to respond to that situation and then how it kind of impacted my personal self. And on top of that the pandemic was really, really difficult. I think seeing the world so divided was frustrating for me as a person who doesn't want that. And I think that collectively there was just this moment where it seemed like the whole world was hurting. So I think that that had a lot to do with the way that JB and Dustin wrote the album."
That unease that you might feel upon frequent listens to Death Below is by design, Luhrs adds.
"A lot of lyrical content was really about injustice and pain and suffering and addiction and sorrow. So yeah, it's really dark. I want to say that generally speaking we try to write stuff that might feel uncomfortable and have friction to it, but at the end there is like this light at the end of the tunnel type of thing. I don't necessarily know that every song on this record feels like that. There might just be some stuff that we try to make it feel good at the end, but this is really heavy, you know?"
Death Below, which features guest appearances from Killswitch Engage vocalist Jesse Leach, All That Remains guitarist Jason Richardson, Erra vocalist JT Cavey, and Underoath vocalist Spencer Chamberlain, sees the ensemble of Luhrs, JB Brubaker, Brent Rambler, Matt Greiner and Dustin Davidson operating at the heights of their collective strengths, combining stirring, raw and heavy tracks with vicious, tight instrumentation that well affirms the two decades of growth of August Burns Red.
"What makes me proud of this album is that it's our growth. It's us being honest, and it's not us writing some catchy album that's like, Woah, that's really heavy and that's really catchy. It's like no, this is really us. This is really August Burns Red. This is really pain, this is really compassion. Everything that's coming from us on this album is extremely authentic," Luhrs shared, proudly saluting his bandmates.
"And it also shows you what the dudes can do, man. I look at Matt and I look at Brent and Dustin and JB, and I'm blown away by those guys. Those dudes are real, they're real musicians, and they really think about the smallest little minute intricacies within creating and writing. And it's just like, if you close your eyes and you just listen to the music, it paints an amazing picture. It's an honor for me to be in a band with dudes that actually know what they're doing and are so passionate as they are and work so hard."
Expressing his disbelief that August Burns Red hit their 20th anniversary in 2023, Luhrs remarks that the chemistry and brotherhood between all hands in the band has only strengthened over time, as has their understanding, love, and appreciation for the industry and their devoted fanbase.
"It doesn't feel like it's been 20 years," he says with a laugh. "I love my bandmates. I love my crew. I love sharing the stage with guys that have been ride or die. Being in a band with these guys for 20 years, you see the best and the worst of each other. And then you choose to basically say I do. We're like married, you know?
"So I think that it's hard for me to think that it's been 20 years, but knowing that it has been 20 years and recognizing that my dream has not only just been the dream to tour the United States and be a hardcore kid, but it turned into a career. Not to sound ego or big-headed when I say something like this, but we've made an imprint. We've made our place within this genre of music and it means so much to us.
"And I'm just thankful that people have given us that position because we couldn't make our imprint without there being some sort of community saying, 'Hey, you've made an imprint here. We accept you and you are part of ours and part of us.' We've gotten that nod from the music industry and from our fans, and it means so much to us because we've worked really hard for that.
"But I think and I feel like we also understand the responsibility that comes with that and the respect the honor and how we have to kind of carry ourselves in a different posture then had we not gotten that credibility or that nod from the community. So I think that's part of it, and so when we're doing this 20 year anniversary tour, it means a lot."
August Burns Red hit the road for their 20th anniversary tour with The Devil Wears Prada and Bleed From Within as support. Death Below is available worldwide March 24th through SharpTone Records.
4/13 — Philadelphia, PA — The Fillmore Philadelphia
4/14 — New York, NY — Palladium Times Square
4/15 — Albany, NY — Empire Live
4/16 — Worcester, MA — The Palladium
4/18 — Niagara Falls, NY — Rapids Theater
4/19 — Royal Oak, MI — Royal Oak Music Theatre
4/21 — Grand Rapids, MI — The Intersection
4/22 — St. Louis, MO — Red Flag
4/23 — Kansas City, MO — The Truman
4/25 — Oklahoma City, OK — Diamond Ballroom
4/26 — Omaha, NE — Slowdown
4/28 — Minneapolis, MN — The Fillmore Minneapolis
4/29 — Chicago, IL — Concord Music Hall
4/30 — Cincinnati, OH — Bogarts
5/2 — Cleveland, OH — House of Blues
5/3 — Pittsburgh, PA — Stage AE
5/5 — North Myrtle Beach, SC — House of Blues
5/6 — Richmond, VA — The National
5/7 — Sayreville, NJ — Starland Ballroom
5/9 — Toronto, ON — Danforth Music Hall
5/11 — Montreal, QC — MTelus
5/12 — Quebec, QC — Theatre Capitole