Christian metalcore act August Burns Red is coming to Denver tonight to celebrate the tenth anniversary of seminal album Messengers. The metalcore sound, characterized by rage-filled, hardcore-style vocals and rapid-fire drums, rose on the heels of a new wave of United States heavy metal in the 2000s.
While a handful of these metalcore bands are still playing sold-out venues and grabbing Grammy nominations, others have faded into history.
In honor of August Burns Red's Denver stint, Westword compiled a list of the top five Christian metalcore bands.
1. Texas in July
The Ephrata, Pennsylvania, group Texas in July came to life in 2007. When the bandmembers were still in high school, in 2008, they dropped the EP Salt of the Earth. Songs "Hook, Line and Sinner" and "Dressed for War" displayed drummer Alex Gray's skills. YouTube videos of his performance on "Hook, Line and Sinner" set a new standard in the social-media-driven metalcore scene.
The band followed Salt of the Earth with four studio albums: I Am (2009), One Reality (2011), Texas in July (2012) and Bloodwork (2014).
The band's Christian cred came under fire from the religious right in 2011, when the group agreed to play the 2011 Take Action Tour, which was sponsored by a pro-choice and pro-LGBT website. The bandmembers broke up in 2015 to pursue other musical endeavors.
One of the earlier purveyors of Christian metalcore, Indiana's Haste the Day formed during the post-hardcore days of the early-2000s but quickly established itself outside of that genre with six studio albums between 2004 and 2015.
Early output like Burning Bridges and When Everything Falls displayed the band's unique sound, complete with clean singing and intricate song structure.
The Solid State Records band cranked out albums before taking a short break in 2014. Each of the band's last five records — When Everything Falls (2005), Pressure the Hinges (2007), Dreamer (2008), Attack of the Wolf King (2010) and Coward (2015) — have made their mark on the Billboard charts.
3. As I Lay Dying
San Diego's As I Lay Dying has often been lumped into the new wave of U.S. heavy metal from the late 1990s and early 2000s, alongside bands such as Killswitch Engage and Lamb of God.
Formed in 2000, the group put out face-melting metalcore on albums including Frail Words Collapse (2003), Shadows Are Security (2005) and An Ocean Between Us (2007).
By the time the song "Nothing Left" was nominated for a 2008 Grammy in the Best Metal Performance category, As I Lay Dying had established itself as a heavy-metal hitter. Then, singer Tim Lambesis's conviction for the attempted murder of his wife and his admission that the band's Christian message was a farce ruined it all.
August Burns Red
Courtesy of August Burns Red.
4. August Burns Red August Burns Red is the first Amish-inspired Christian metalcore band on the list — and possibly the only one in the world. August Burns Red slays in the name of Jesus. The band's 2009 album, Constellations, garnered a 2010 Dove Award nomination, which is the Christian equivalent of a Grammy.
The band's latest albums, Rescue and Restore (2013) and Found in Far Away Places (2015), both landed on the Billboard 200 chart at number nine. Rescue and Restore was the number-two U.S. Christian album, while the song "Identity," from the latest release, received a 2015 Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance.
The Dayton, Ohio, outfit, The Devil Wears Prada, blew up thanks to MySpace, the social-media site where independent bands promoted their music in the mid-2000s. The group, like August Burns Red, spawned a thousand copycats after releasing its brand of Christian metalcore online.
The Devil Wears Prada drafted the blueprint for the Christian metalcore sound with its first two albums, Dear Love: A Beautiful Discord (2006) and Plagues (2007).
The act hit the mainstream with its 2009 album, With Roots Above and Branches Below, which landed at number eleven on the Billboard 200 chart and number one on the U.S. Top Christian Albums, Independent Albums and Top Hard Rock Albums charts, respectively. Dead Throne (2011) peaked at number ten on the Billboard chart and again topped the U.S. Top Christian Albums and Independent Albums charts. Not to be overshadowed, the band's two concept EPs, Zombie (2012) and Space (2015), are loaded with bangers like "Escape" and "Planet A."
August Burns Red will play the Ogden Theatre, January 17, at 7 p.m. Protest the Hero, In Hearts Wake and ’68 will provide support. Tickets are $23 in advance and $25 at the door.
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