August Burns Red – Rescue and Restore
Record Label: Solid State Records
Release Date: June 25, 2013
There’s a paradox that music fans tend to have, when it comes to their favorite bands. When a band releases a record that sounds exactly like everything they’ve done prior, fans get outraged that the band didn’t do something different. When a band releases a record that’s more “mature” or merely just experimenting with a new sound or aspect to their sound, fans also outrage because it’s not “like their older stuff.” Well, PA metalcore band August Burns Red have always been in the middle. They’re a very well respected band within the genre, and for good reason – they’ve never put out a “bad” album. They’ve always been consistent, all the while still remaining rather interesting. I’ve only listened to the band’s last two records (not counting sixth record Rescue and Restore), so while I’m not terribly familiar with their discography, I know enough to get by. 2009’s Constellations was the first record I listened to by them, and I didn’t really know what to expect, although I did listen to a song by them from the 2008 Warped Tour compilation, which originally sparked my interest. Well, Constellations was a great record, and some fans even say it’s their best. I couldn’t really get into 2011’s Leveler, but it was still enjoyable, from what I remember, since it’s been a couple of years since I’ve listened to it. Regardless, I don’t know what made me curious about this record. Maybe it was the fact that they’ve always put out great records, so I ultimately wanted to see what they put out next. Second single “Spirit Breaker,” released a couple weeks ago, is honestly quite representative of the record as a whole. It’s a five-minute metalcore masterpiece (say that five times fast), to say the least. However, there’s also some ambient and orchestral instrumentation within the track, like violins. It slows down at a few points, which is really odd, because they’ve barely done that before. Constellations had a few songs with some slowed down instrumentation, or melodic parts, which was really cool, and I really hoped that they would do more with that. Leveler didn’t do much, but this record really took the hint, and there are progressive/ambient instrumentals throughout, which is one of the best parts of the record.
Another thing that I love about this record is vocalist Jake Luhrs and his very uplifting and just plain inspiring lyrics. I’ve always really enjoyed his unique scream, but his lyrics are something to marvel at, frankly. August Burns Red have always had a knack for writing very inspiring tracks about hope, and getting through tough times. There are a lot of lyrics about that on this record, but I’d even go as far as to say that this record is a concept record about just that. The band came out in an interview recently where they said that the genre of metalcore has become rather boring, and when one of the most popular and most talented bands of the genre says that, you know things just got serious. But the point is, lyrics like these and a sound like ABR’s is what makes metalcore and all of metal worth listening to. I don’t want to hear pointless breakdown after breakdown, or lyrics with profanities laced throughout. Luhrs understands this, and his lyrics have always been something to admire, which is what keeps me coming back to this band. This band is like the perfect machine – everything about them works, and without one member, they wouldn’t be the same band that we all know and enjoy. They all bring something different to the table, and it’s bands like these that I enjoy more than most, because every member does something important. And because of that, their sound works, and ABR’s sound works quite well.
Rescue and Restore is August Burns Red’s most “progressive” record to date, meaning that it’s their most diverse record. They've been pushing the envelope with each release, and this one is the crux of that. The record starts off with “Provision,” and it’s a monster of a track. It starts with an aggressive guitar riff and pounding drumbeat, and shortly thereafter, Luhrs’ growl kicks in, and the album gets going. It starts off on a familiar note, but fantastically. However, the song slows down a bit during the bridge, but it’s absolutely fantastic. The best part about these “slower” parts is that they’re quite natural, and they don't halt the song in any way. They flow and ease into one another, which is nice for a record like this. It has its heavier moments, but uncommon for a “metal” band, it also has its quieter moments. The record keeps going in this fashion for awhile, but the only problem that I have with bands like this is merely that records can run together if you’re not careful. Each song can sound eerily similar to one another, but this record doesn’t quite do that. There are plenty of memorable moments, as with their other records. I briefly mentioned third track “Spirit Breaker” earlier in the review, and this song is one of the highlights of the record. It’s the first song they released, but it’s one of the best, too. It also features some spoken word by Luhrs himself. It appears again on another track later on in the record, but this is another very unique moment. One of the best songs on the record, though, comes in the form of sixth track “Creative Captivity.” On every record, they seem to have one song that really goes above and beyond their limits. Constellations had “Meridian,” Leveler had “Internal Cannon,” and this song seems to be next in line. Basically, these songs are all very atmospheric instrumentals, for the most part, because throughout the song, Luhrs’ screams can be heard in the background, before he really lets loose towards the end. This song is impressive, because it features a vast array of instruments, but it’s mainly an interlude track. At the same time, though, it doesn’t feel like it, because the entire record isn’t your conventional “verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus” record. It’s much more than that, and it takes a journey all on its down.
Following that track, the second half of the record packs just as much of a punch as the first half. First single “Fault Line” (which I didn’t listen to until the record was released, may I add) comes in right afterwards, and it starts off slow, but it eventually becomes one of the heaviest songs on the record. It’s one of the best, too. Certain parts of the record do bring back “classic” ABR, with sweeping breakdowns and fast and aggressive metal riffage, but it’s not all “br00tal” and heavy. That’s why I like this album, and I’ve said it before many times in the review. That’s a point I want to get across, however. Right after that, next track “Beauty In Tragedy” is another one of the highlights on the record, but what makes this song so great is more so the lyrics than the instrumentation, although it is very unique. It’s all about losing a loved one, and trying to battle through it, as well as coping with the loss. If you’ve lost anyone close to you, whether it’s family, friends, or whatever, this song is quite powerful. And Luhrs’ vocals make his lyrics that much more effective. He’s one of those rare harsh vocalists whose screams are actually genuine, and not because they want to be “br00tal.” This is the other song where his spoken word appears as well, and it works very well. In fact, the whole record works very well, and if you told me that a metalcore record would end up being one of my favorites of the year, I would’ve laughed at you, most likely. I was quite skeptical on checking this record out at first, because I’m not a huge fan of metalcore anymore, and I haven’t listened to this band since Leveler, which didn’t stick with me. This record, on the other hand, will, and it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s an amazing listen from start to finish, and it’s unlike any metalcore or metal record I’ve ever listened to. There’s a reason August Burns Red have always been one of my favorite metal bands, as well as favorite bands in general, and this record definitely proves that.