August Burns Red - Rescue & Restore
Record Label: Solid State Records
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Over the last five years, metalcore has grown tremendously; so much so that roughly two-thirds of the Warped Tour lineup every year falls into or near the genre. As tends to happen when a genre explodes, popular trends and gimmicks start trickling their way into bands' works until it becomes tough to distinguish one band from another. Hey, if it sells, it sells, right? But the conformity to the safe, tried-and-true trends of this growing genre leads to the genre becoming staler than the smell of the cigarette smoke that looms in the air of most metalcore shows. JB Brubaker, guitarist and primary songwriter of Pennsylvania metalcore band August Burns Red, has noticed the rapid convergence of the genre, and he wants to do something about it.
August Burns Red have never been a band that follows the trends of the genre; likewise, Brubaker has always shown his ability to write riffs that aren’t limited to the overused riffs that many of us grew to love and then gradually hate as the years went by. Since the band’s debut album Thrill Seeker, all the way through 2011’s Leveler, the band has consistently pushed the metalcore envelope with unusual riffs, off-time breakdowns, and tempo changes that leave a listener scratching his head one second, then head-banging along the next second. Brubaker’s goal with August Burns Red’s newest album, Rescue & Restore, is to further push the boundaries of what a metalcore band can be, and for the most part, he and the band accomplish their goal.
The album kicks off with a typical August Burns Red track called “Provision,” which features a quick and winding guitar riff backed by on-and-off blast beats from one of the genre’s stars, drummer Matt Greiner. Rescue & Restore features Greiner’s best work to date—many of his tempo-altering drum fills are executed so perfectly that they almost sound fake. Halfway through the song, the band slows things down with one of Brubaker’s most creative riffs. Over the slowed-down, clean-toned riff, lead vocalist Jake Luhrs screams, “It’s times like these, you forget to remember who you are.” Luhrs’ lyrics are powerful, both in content and in the ferocity with which he screams them at you. Just like in his previous lyrical work, he’s positive and conveys his strong faith without being overly preachy.
The next track, Treatment, feels like a stream of consciousness straight from the mind of the band’s members, going on and on without any real structure. It’s pulled off so well that it’s as cohesive as any song that features a traditional verse-chorus-verse format, and it’s one of the best tracks on the album. “Spirit Breaker” is a chill-inducing song with a bridge that features Luhrs reading an emotional letter over airy, layered guitars, followed by a hopeful outro that is one of the highlights of the album.
The song that really shows the experimental capability of August Burns Red is “Creative Captivity,” a mostly instrumental song that uses a wide variety of instruments not typically found in this type of music, including a mandolin and xylophone. Luhrs eventually enters the song loud and clear, screaming the line that bears the album’s namesake, “This is a cause worth fighting for. We will rescue and restore.” All of this is capped off with an unexpected trumpet solo in the album’s most memorable moment. If “Creative Captivity” is the band’s attempt at evolving even further than they already have since the fan-favorite album Messengers, the next song, “Fault Line” is a message to those fans that the band can still write great, straightforward metalcore songs. “Fault Line” will surely be a staple in the band’s incredible spot-on live show for years to come. The album finishes just as strong as it begins with the Egyptian-sounding “Animals” and the slower “Echoes,” which reminds me of “Salt & Light” off of the band’s previous album, Leveler.
The members of August Burns Red continue to evolve—not only in their musicianship and songwriting ability, but also in their uniqueness and creativity. It’s hard to believe that the band that wrote as progressive an album as Constellations could out-do themselves and progress even further not once, but twice, first with Leveler, and now with Rescue & Restore. So while most metalcore bands continue the narrowing convergence into a black hole full of trite, worn-out riffs and scream/sing song structure, August Burns Red continues their diverging evolution; JB Brubaker can only hope that more bands follow their lead.
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