As Christmas is around the corner, Pennsylvanian metalcore act August Burns Red have released a festive themed EP, ‘Winter Wilderness’. Gloriously heavy and deliciously melodic, the release reimagines Christmas classics along with two new compositions for extra measure.
Launching into the first of the two originals, Avalanche unfurls shimmering chords on top of thundering drum rolls. Soon enough, guitarists John Brubaker and Brent Rambler throw distorted melodic leads and percussive power chords into the soundscape. Flitting between smooth clean lines and rough blast beats, ‘Avalanche’ takes you up and down evolving melodies and hammering drums.
Tackling cover versions of songs usually depends on either novelty concepts or complete re-imaginations of the composition. With this EP, August Burns Red takes the latter approach, skewering expectancy with dynamic tension and multiple techniques being used.
A highlight of this is found in ‘Home Alone Theme’, percussively running through the verse of the track, drummer Matt Greiner builds the tension before snapping with a clean rendition of the main motif.
Using harmonised leads and taking the motif into the higher register, Brubaker ensures that the main motif doesn’t become stale, at one point even becoming mesmerising by its third pass with the inclusion of shuffled drum beats holding it up.
Following on from a stellar interpretation, ‘What Child Is This?’ sees the group not only create a new spin on the classic, but also takes the track into new territory by having the main motif appear via staccato strings with flamenco flavoured percussive backbone.
With a disregard for the easy route, August Burns Red have crafted a string of head banging options for the festive period. Whilst not an essential release for the fans, it’s an enjoyable one nonetheless.