Applying the “Christian” tag to your music can oftentimes be a red flag for music fans, especially in the world of heavy metal where it’s all about exploring extremes both musically and lyrically. While on the surface it would appear that separating themselves from the most cultish and brutal world of heavy metal with a faith-influenced message would be limiting for most bands, metalcore quintet August Burns Red have found freedom in it. On their fourth album, Leveler, August Burns Red have continued on in the exploratory tradition of the bands before them, but rather than finding new and darker ways to add menace to their sound, they’ve pushed into brighter, more uplifting territories. Rather than a constant, oppressive string of menacing riffs and boilerplate breakdowns, songs like “Salt & Light” and “Empire” soar upwards, adding brightness to the songs without sacrificing heaviness. This kind of contrast between light and dark makes Leveler a wonderfully dynamic album that is musically engaging with mercifully few bass bombs. Theological differences aside, metal fans would do well to give this one a chance.