Clean cut, suburban, Lancaster-based hard-rockers August Burns Red released their first full LP in 2005 with Thrill Seeker. For this effort, vocals are courtesy of Josh McManness. Since then, they’ve gained a new lead vocalist Jake Luhrs, as well as a loyal following among metalcore fanatics. Since their hugely popular and successful Constellations album of 2009, ABR have delved deeper into creating their own unique sound. 2011’s Leveler, 2013’s Rescue & Restore, and their latest, Found in Far Away Places (2015) have shown themselves to be increasingly disinterested in the metalcore norm.
Thrill Seeker (2005): 11 songs, 44 minutes.
Although lyrics of many genres tend to be cryptic, it could be said that metal is one of the most notorious. Nevertheless, McManness manages to slip in some great themes. “Tear down all the assumptions you hold” says “Your Little Suburbia is in Ruins,” making clear that our preconceptions taint everything that we believe, for good or bad. “Too Late for Roses” mourns the downfall of a close friend, while “Barbarian” reminds us to be optimistic throughout life. “Consumer” warns us against the damaging consequences of narcissism as “The Seventh Trumpet” condemns the shortsightedness of hedonism. But I think “Shot Below the Belt” (of all things) sums up the record the best: “What a bittersweet symphony life is, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Drummer Matt Greiner along with lead guitarist J.B. Brubaker have always striven to create technically proficient material. Thrill Seeker, although an early effort, is no exception. Several of the songs include odd-metered breakdowns, heavily distorted shredding, as well as some hard-hitting, deep chording. “Speech Impediment” and “Shot Below the Belt” are two of my favorites to listen to. The guitar work by Brubaker and Rambler is excellent and gets my adrenaline pumping. The group yelling in “Endorphins” is worthy of headbanging, while the instrumental “Eve of the End” serves as a fitting prelude to the 8-minute epic that is “The Seventh Trumpet,” also a personal favorite. Tracks 4-8 have their own unique aspects, but fail to deliver anything too memorable.
Overall, though, the collaborative effort by each part of the ensemble contributes dramatically to the record as a whole. Although their newer albums showcase their technical skills in a much more grandiose manner, Thrill Seeker is legitimately complex for a debut album, as evidenced by the production, spearheaded by none other than Adam Dutkiewicz of metal legendary Killswitch Engage. Thrill Seeker is definitely worth a first, and second, look. 7.0/10.
 Biographical and album content adapted from Spotify database.
 All Music, Thrill Seeker, http://www.allmusic.com/album/thrill-seeker-mw0000171000/credits (May 17, 2016).