August Burns Red formed in Lancaster, PA in 2003 and have since become a powerhouse in the metalcore scene. “The Frost” from Phantom Anthem is a prime example of their steadfast musicianship and innovative attitude. Tambourine, shaker, and sleigh bells open the track before giving way to a high-spirited guitar hook. Tranquil major chords add dimension to the typical crunching, fast paced rhythms and guitar riffs of the verse, before the hook comes back with the addition of a catchy chorus in tow. A brief breakdown is followed by a short but beautiful solo bass guitar passage. While not ABR’s most instrumentally impressive or innovative song (not to say it’s lacking in either department), it still aptly showcases their unique and uplifting sound, as well as their ability to consistently write and produce interesting music, especially in the midst of a genre that can be quite the opposite.
The Welcome Wagon consists of Reverend and Mrs. Aiuto who are based in Brooklyn, NY and play Christian hipster/indie music. Simply put, Light Up the Stairs evokes the desire to sip a latté from your local barista and relax. A broad sampling of unorthodox instruments appears on tracks like “Hcq1” & “Lamb Of God,” and an odd-meter time signature adds depth to the title track. A deceptively thin, organic texture pervades the album, and it fits perfectly, despite the obvious layering. “It’s so Hard” is probably the best track, as it’s R&B infused feel contrasts with the other songs and though ambiguous seems to discuss the struggles of ministry. “Galatians 2:20” is also a gem as it is Scripture set to music with minimal embellishment. Light Up the Stairs is a refreshing work that presents some simple truths in a quaint, down to earth, yet enthrallingly artistic manner.
— By Caleb Trimmer