It’s hard to get into the holiday spirit during the worst year in history, but 2020 is ending with August Burns Red doing their back catalog of Christmas tracks in live format. After attending TesseracT’s live stream today, I’m beyond pumped for ABR’s, as I’m significantly more familiar with the tracks being played and the theme at hand. I’m stoked as can be, so let’s dig in!
Christmas Burns Red kicked off with a new ABR track: a cover of System of a Down’s “Chop Suey”. The chat went BERSERK when this happened, as August Burns Red crushed the popular track with ease. We then got a hysterical storybook reading from NASCAR driver and fan of metalcore Bubba Wallace, setting the tone before the band came to their snowy stage to start with their original song, “Flurries”.
It’s clear from the get-go that the sound rig is monstrous, as the band sounds on par with studio-quality in this stream. Matt’s toms were downright massive, and anyone with good bass in their speakers was treated by this. When Jake came in for “King of Sorrow”, his voice was clear as day in the mix and the band’s stage presence dazzled the chat, who welcomed the singer with caps lock in droves.
Jake called for the virtual crowd to bounce for “Provisions”, and for a second, I forgot I was behind a PC and felt inclined to do so – and obliged. During heavy parts, the chat popped off – I laughed out loud when someone said “MY CAT IS FLYING” and “moshpits are essential services”. One thing I noted in “Paramount” was the camera direction – unlike the cinematic TesseracT show, this one was shot with more of a “Live Music Video” edge. There were some really cool drum-cam and panning shots throughout. Most noteworthy was a particular shot that was almost knee-level to emulate the feeling of being in a packed crowd not at eye-level with the band.
It became obvious in “Invisible Enemy” that this show was mastered in surround sound after someone in chat mentioned it – I heard a tapping section in the right speaker while the rhythm chugged along in the left. I wasn’t expecting my 7.1 surround sound headset to get some use this show, but that’s exactly what happened. The members were dripping with sweat at this point – not a second was wasted from song to song.
Fog machines shot sky-high during the breakdown of “Defender”, an instant-goosebump moment for me. Another one soon followed when my favorite track, “Mariana’s Trench”, started up. I haven’t seen the band perform it live in a decade at my first metalcore show with them, so it was a magnificent “full-circle” moment. For “Winter Wilderness”, JB and Dustin switched guitars in a move that caught me pleasantly off-guard, as each showed mastery over the other’s instrument. The mix of Xmas songs and the best of the discography made for a nice variety.
“Ties That Bind” dumbfounded fans as JB produced some growls in the middle of the track, an unprecedented action in ABR shows so far. I headbanged too much during the next song to keep track of what it was, which is a good sign. With fan-favorite “Composure” up next, all the lyrics came up in the chat from start to finish. Then came “Empire”, and I found MYSELF almost out of breath at this point.
Jake said the last song would be “Ghosts”, as I hoped for an encore just like everyone else. It was at this point that I found that to this point of the stream, there wasn’t a single interruption. Not even a stutter! Matt Greiner got a drum solo that I legitimately could not take my eyes off of – it was inexplicably astounding, and easily one of the best I have ever heard. As anticipated, we get an encore – “Carol of the Bells” with Dustin in full Santa gear. Then, Jake came for “White Washed” – yet another markout moment.
Lots of fantastic moments in Christmas Burns Red for ABR/metalcore fans alike. It went off without a hitch, and is more than worth the price of entry. The stream will be watchable until ~9PM EST on the 14th, so don’t miss the chance to catch it if you’re keen for an intense concert-like livestream!