August Burns Red to play Skyway Theatre

Metalcore pioneers August Burns Red want to invite rather than intimidate — even if their music scares you a little.

Joe Kellen

When Christian metalcore band August Burns Red formed in 2003, the genre was small, but had a loyal following.

The band played cramped venues and honed their sound around the same time future heavyweights as the Devil Wears Prada, As I Lay Dying and Blessthefall were gearing up for commercial success. Their respective fixations on marrying the speedy rage of hardcore music to metal’s intensity would eventually place these groups on top of the humongous and passionate metalcore-with-a-dash-of-worship heap.

“The scene gets a lot of attention now, which is great,” guitarist JB Brubaker said. “Rooms we play are full now and it’s full of a lot of people who are genuinely excited to be there.”

August Burns Red has changed since 2003. They released their record “Rescue & Restore” last year and have toured all over the world.

Brubaker said the newest album is different for the band in that it experiments with new sounds outside the genre.

“We added a lot of cello support which changed a lot of the record for us,” he said. “I think we feel a responsibility to take risks after being together for so long.”

While “Rescue & Restore” maintains the elements that made August Burns Red hit the big time — spellbindingly technical riffs, blast beats on the drums and molasses-thick vocals — the group allows for moments of calmness and introspection.

“When we first started, we just wanted balls to the wall, heavy breakdown music,” Brubaker said. “It’s an important aspect, but it’s not necessarily what I’m drawn to now.”

Even though it may not be clear from their lyrics, August Burns Red has a heavy Christian influence. Drummer Matt Greiner said the religious viewpoint underscores all of their work as a band.

“We want to write lyrics that help people flourish,” he said. “I couldn’t sleep at night if we sent a message as a band that wasn’t helpful to people or put people down.”

This is evident when listening to songs off “Rescue & Restore” like “Treatment.” Vocalist Jake Luhrs howls lyrics like a youth pastor with fangs: “Too many hands clenched in fists / Relax your grip / Open the gates / Open the gates / Too many hearts filled with hate / Let acceptance in.”

August Burns Red tries to keep their moral undertones thematic and indirect. The band is more focused on giving their fans positive moshing mantras — they understand that listeners may not identify with their religious spin.

Greiner said he’s consistently astounded by the number of people who involve themselves in the metalcore scene. After 11 years, it still feels surreal to approach screaming, crowded rooms.

“Each show, you see a lot of the same faces — it’s like a reunion in a way,” he said.

As far as the future is concerned, the band members only know that they want to sustain this career path as long as possible.

“When it comes down to it, our job is fun,” Brubaker said. “It keeps us interesting.”

 

Who: Asking Alexandria, August Burns Red, We Came As Romans, Crown The Empire, Born of Osiris, Out Came The Wolves
Where: Skyway Theatre, 711 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
When: 4:30 p.m. Wednesday
Cost: $25
Ages: All ages