The veteran metalcore unit's eighth studio long-player, Phantom Anthem sees August Burns Red deliver a balanced, brutal, and almost relentlessly efficient 11-track set that deftly utilizes every inch of sonic space to its advantage. After 14-plus years together, it should come as no surprise that the band is a well-oiled machine, but while some might argue that boundaries are meant to be broken, there's something to be said for planting your flag, claiming your homestead, and defending it to the death. Opener "King of Sorrow" does just that, administering undulating waves of lethality that are as bloodthirsty as they are thrillingly melodic, due in large part to the inventive riffage laid out by guitarists JB Brubaker and Brent Rambler. Other standouts include the kinetic "The Frost," which manages the impressive feat of being both soaring and pit-ready, and the neck-snapping "Float," an anthemic horn of plenty with enough hairpin turns to render listeners' legs gelatinous and their stomachs in knots. Recent forays into a more atmosphere-driven approach to their signature blend of melody and might have yielded some fascinating fruits -- their 2015 Fearless Records debut, Found in Far Away Places, was a bold smorgasbord of stylistic trial and error -- but Phantom Anthem is rooted in pure power, and it just never lets up.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger