August Burns Red's JB Brubaker picks his most influential metal albums of the 21st Century

album covers from BTBAM, Darkest Hour, Deafheaven and Gojira
(Image credit: Press)

August Burns Red have been around for two decades now. In between releasing some of the most technically intelligent and wonderfully positive metalcore that the scene has to offer, they have also rubbed shoulders with thousands of other bands across the whole of metal's fantastical landscape. Pulling inspiration from every corner and using it to propel them forward.

For the band, such inspiration has led them to their brand new record, Death Below, set for release on March 24 via SharpTone Records. A visceral blend of noodling riffs and darkened poetry, with plenty of black metal drum fills and towering metal imagery thrown in for good measure, it's one of the band's finest showings and a testament to what hard work, dedication and drive can do for your art.

To celebrate the occasion, guitarist JB Brubaker has selected some of the albums that have served as inspiration for him over the life of the band and spoken about what they mean to him. Let's go.

Metal Hammer line break

Between the Buried and Me - Alaska (2005)

"BTBAM has been the most important metal band to me, and while it’s really hard for me to pick a favourite album from their vast discography, Alaska will always be an important one. We got to do a good bit of touring with Between the Buried and Me when they were touring Alaska. I remember being blown away by the guitar sweeps, the chaotic moments that turned into beautiful moments, and the sheer intensity of the album. I learned so much about playing the guitar from Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring. Their entire band were like mentors to us when we were young; we’ll always be grateful for that."

Unearth - The Oncoming Storm (2004)

"This album just rips. It’s fast. It’s heavy. It’s unrelenting. We were obsessed with The Oncoming Storm when it came out. I can remember being in the studio recording Thrill Seeker and chugging breakdown rhythms from this album in between takes in the studio. We were lucky enough to tour with Unearth, and they treated us kindly as a two-of-four band on their tour. Buz and Ken were certainly influential on me as a guitar player. To me, this is an iconic metalcore album."

Darkest Hour - Deliver Us (2007)

"I had a hard time choosing between Undoing Ruin or Deliver Us. Both of these albums were written when Kris Norris was in the band. Kris was such a sick guitar player and songwriter. I loved the melody he used in his writing as well as the straight-up shred parts. Deliver Us doesn’t rely on breakdowns like most of the stuff I loved from this time period. It’s just packed with great metal songs, thrash parts, and sick guitar solos. When we toured with Darkest Hour, Kris Norris was kind enough to tab out parts he wrote that I wanted to learn and show me how to play stuff backstage. I’ll always remember that fondly."

As I Lay Dying - An Ocean Between Us (2007)

"Before the controversy surrounding As I Lay Dying, they were just a dope metal band pumping out great metal albums. An Ocean Between Us is my favourite record and was really influential on me during the writing of our album Constellations. ABR got to do a lot of touring with AILD in 2008 and I became good buddies with their guitar players. I was that annoying guy who would bug AILD guitarist Nick Hipa backstage to teach me their songs. Then we’d jam them together on our Microcube practice amps. I think An Ocean Between Us is packed with massive metalcore anthems, and watching them play those songs live night after night was a pleasure."

Deafheaven - New Bermuda (2015)

"What an album. I know Sunbather gets a lot of the hype (great album), but New Bermuda just really connected with me. Deafheaven has mastered the ability to fuse together walls of black metal noise into beautiful post-rock interludes. This album balances both so perfectly. The song Brought to the Water, that opening riff smashes and sets the tone. I can perfectly remember looking out the window of our tour bus driving across Europe, listening to this album in my headphones. The perfect soundtrack for a damp and cloudy afternoon and one of my all-time favourite metal albums."

Baroness - Red Album (2007)

"I love this record so much. It’s so raw and real. You can tell that what they played is what was recorded. It has a very authentic and unique sound from a production standpoint. This album is my favourite Baroness album. Their sound has evolved over the years into a more palatable sound, but I love the Red Album because the vocals are screamed, the songs are winding, and the use of guitar effects is incredibly creative. I listened to this album whenever I’d go for a jog, and it reminded me of a particular period in my life and was undoubtedly influential in my guitar work as a songwriter in ABR."

Cult of Luna - Somewhere Along the Highway (2006)

"It’s really hard for me to pick a favourite album from Cult of Luna because they’re so consistent at making massive soundscapes with crushingly heavy crescendos. Somewhere Along the Highway is the album I went with because it narrowly edges out their other records for me. From the haunting album intro (those slide guitars!) to the thunderous drums that kick off the second track, Finland, this record takes you on an epic journey. The album closer, Dark City, Dead Man, is one of the most satisfying 15 minutes of metal I’ve ever heard. I don’t know how many times I’ve put that song on, closed my eyes, and was just mesmerized. I can’t say enough good things about this band. I feel like not a lot of ABR fans are probably familiar with them, but they’ve been hugely influential on me, especially with my writing on songs like Meridian, Eve of the End and Three Fountains."

Animals as Leaders - The Joy of Motion (2014)

"When it comes to progressive instrumental metal music, Animals as Leaders are the kings. ABR goes way back with Tosin Abasi to the days when he was still playing in DC area metalcore band Reflux. We all knew he was a special guitar player, but we had no idea he’d go on to invent his own style and sound of playing the guitar, basically. The Joy of Motion is my favourite AAL album. It showcases so many sounds and styles while being both heavy and catchy. Making odd-meter instrumental prog metal music catchy must be tricky, but here we are."

Gojira - Magma (2016)

"I’ll admit, I was late to the party with Gojira. Magma was the first album that clicked with me, and boy, it clicked. I really respect Gojira for their creativity and for carving out their own sound in the metal world. Magma is a little more scaled back and less chaotic than their older albums, but I love this album's songwriting and vocal delivery. Their use of rhythm is so distinct and all their own. This is just a band who knows who they are and has really dialled in their craft. Also, Magma is one of the coolest metal songs I’ve ever heard."

Jack Rogers

Jack has yet to hear a breakdown that he hasn't fallen head over heels for. First putting pen to paper for Louder in 2023, he loves nothing more than diving straight into the feels with every band he gets to speak to. On top of bylines in Prog, Rock Sound and Revolver, you’ll also often find him losing his voice at a Lincoln City match or searching for London’s best vegan kebab.