2020… the year of the live-stream/virtual event. A paltry replacement for the lack of live shows but a way for fans to get their fix of music. From the lowly ‘social media live from the bedroom’ streams to the ‘high-end, full production’ stuff. There has been plenty for fans to enjoy this year. Many free, some not. With the latter often being the top-tier bands and their more elaborate setups.
Which brings us to this. Christmas Burns Red, the annual holiday event for kick-ass metalcore heavyweights, August Burns Red. This following on from their recent release of their instrumental version of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You.
Of course, Christmas and August Burns Red goes together like cranberry sauce and turkey (don’t @ us – it is awesome together). Over the years they have released one full holiday album in August Burns Red Presents: Sleddin’ Hill and the Winter Wilderness EP. We considered them the kings of Christmas metal, at least until Majestica came along this year.
There’s a ton of love for August Burns Red on this website. Not just the Christmas side of things either as their normal releases are class too. Their latest album, Guardians is an album of the year contender!
However, experiencing them live in the holiday environment just hasn’t happened so what better way to pull the cracker then with Christmas Burns Red!
Before we get into the set-list and the show overall… let’s talk about the stage set-up. Goodness, is it jolly looking! Fake snow, Christmas trees, presents and lovely soft lighting. It really builds anticipation for what will follow.
Which is the banger from Sleddin’ Hill, Flurries. An instant hit of holiday metal that has members of the band decked out in Santa hats. If you weren’t feeling in the Christmas spirit before this, you will be afterwards.
With that done, it’s time for some ‘proper’ August Burns Red music though. A blistering King of Sorrow from 2017’s Phantom Anthem. A wild Provision from 2013’s Rescue & Restore and a monumental first live showing of a Guardians track in Paramount. The new stuff sounds fabulous and we get plenty aired from the latest album as the set progresses. Defender, Ties That Bind and Bloodletter alongside a couple more from Phantom Anthem in The Frost and Invisible Enemy.
In most circumstances the ‘crowd’ interaction moments will inevitably come across forced in most virtual and live streams. Here, it’s no different but when August Burns Red asks you to raise your hand or to head-bang like your life depends on it, it’s hard to not go along with them wherever you are. Especially when their throwing out the phenomenal Marinas Trench from 2009’s Constellations.
It’s after that, we get the second Christmassy effort with the title track from the Winter Wilderness EP. It’s not quite Flurries but it’s still a banger with all kinds of festive feelings!
Nearing the end, August Burns Red go way back to 2007 for Composure off of Messengers before wrapping up the set with a thrilling Ghosts from 2015’s Found in Far Away Places.
Don’t close down your browser just yet (the new ‘wait for the lights to come on before leaving’) as there’s more. We have an encore, one that begins in comedic fashion as a voiceover declares that up next is what we all have been waiting for… a drum solo!
It’s a drum solo but a banging one before the Christmas feeling is ramped up even more. Snow blowing in, Santa Claus on guitar and the band busting out their version of Carol of the Bells. It’s a lot of fun, especially when Santa loses his hat through the sheer metal ferocity of it all.
Talking of which, it’s White Washed from 2009’s Constellations that actually ends the show and what a heavyweight finish it is. The icing on this delicious cake that was Christmas Burns Red.
It’s been a killer show. August Burns Red sounded immense, the production was quality but not over the top, it still felt like a live show and the set-list was banging from beginning to end. If…and this is a big if… there was one complaint, it would be that there could have been one or two extra Christmas tracks thrown in. It’s being nit-picky though and getting to hear Flurries and Winter Wilderness ‘live’ more than makes up for that.
Want to watch the show but missed the stream? Fear not! It is available on demand here. As well as merch bundles and more!
Christmas Burns Red (12/12/20)
The Final Score - 9/10