If there’s one thing I can compliment about August Burns Red, it’s their consistency. They have released a new LP every two years since their first back in 2005 (the recent holiday album not included). They’ve been a reliable source for metalcore done the right way and have definitely amassed a good fanbase because of it. Except this time, it appears that the band is now promising new and ambitious areas with their latest release, Rescue & Restore.
Some comments leading up to the release from guitarist JB Brubaker reflects how the band is exploring more ambitious and unfamiliar territory with Rescue & Restore. It may be the same song and dance that tons of other metalcore bands have performed before, but with August Burns Red, it definitely caught my attention.
With every new release they’ve always given generally the same thing; energetic metalcore with some odd-metered breakdowns every once in a while. And for a long time, this was pretty much all that they gave us, which they pulled off pretty well. But even I would get a little tired of every new release sounding a little too like the previous. So now with their fifth release, we can finally see some other areas the band can do just as well.
Now, these differences aren’t really all that astronomical. Basically, ABR appears to be trying to think outside of the box more often, and to break from some of their more tried traditions. This was achieved mostly by expanding their instrumentation, which includes acoustic guitars, orchestral string instruments, choir vocals, and even a Caribbean-style percussion ensemble.
And those additions generally fit pretty well within Rescue & Restore. “Treatment” begins just like any good ABR song with the melodic dueling guitars and charging drums. But after a few breakdowns, it abruptly transitions into a short melodic passage involving acoustic guitars and a violin. There are other examples, like in “Beauty In Tragedy” which ends on a break with choir vocals to fade out. These new ideas definitely don’t take over entire songs, but just give that needed bit to push ABR songs to a new level.
That isn’t to say the new ground is anything we haven’t heard before from other bands, nor is it always welcome. The Caribbean-style percussion ensemble for instance was more random than anything, and stood out in an odd way in an otherwise solemn song (“Creative Captivity”). The track also ended with a trumpet solo that again stood out in just an odd way. It seemed like at times they were trying too hard to be a little different.
And the other new ground seems to simply be a tendency to add more slower and melodic sections than in past albums. Which again, is nothing totally unfamiliar to the realm of metalcore, nor is some of the unconventional instrumentation. But past the new areas they explore, Rescue & Restore still gives the public what they want. In general, the main guitar riffs seems to have gotten a little more creative and the breakdowns are still as odd-metered and imaginative as they ever have been. If all you want is ABR, you still get it.
Rescue & Restore is one of the better releases that August Burns Red has released in a while. They’ve broken just a little bit of new ground from their usual sound, which definitely shows their growth as musicians. Even though every attempt wasn’t exactly a homerun, it still made for a good listening experience. It’s especially good for the long-running fans of ABR. It puts you off-track just enough to keep you interested in not only the album, but the band as well.
"Spirit Breaker" (Lyric Video)
"Fault Line" (Lyric Video)