Review Summary: A revitalized August Burns Red and suddenly the game changes.4.25 Superbly Excellent
Not too long ago (2011) I started giving, not even selling, but simply giving away a majority of my music collection. I think I was having a mid-mid-life crisis seeing as I began to turn away from a majority of music, I stopped listening to songs while falling asleep, I didn’t require it as a background for all my car rides and I think I allowed my ears to experience an Imagine Dragons song in the midst of all the craziness, so yes, I was definitely in a crisis. It was also around this time that I decided to forego talking about music, and to a greater extent all entertainment, in general, reviewing fell by the wayside and I tried, in a sense, to stop evolving. You see what I didn’t realize was my mind was challenging my daily routines, questioning my loves and definitions of life so I would evolve and avoid stagnation – which is cool and all, but as all elementary school retorts go, “I didn’t have to like it”. Now, if we rewind back to the beginning of this tale, astonishingly we’ll encounter August Burns Red feeling awfully similar to their progression of music, essentially their life
, as I had about listening to their “life” and friends within. More importantly it should be noted that despite how much ABR didn’t like the music they were making, what they were releasing, in terms of Leveler
, was the exact opposite. Leveler
was a terrible disjointed mess of non-ideas. In order for them to back up what they’d been saying they needed to challenge their capabilities and how they identified with their music. The title Rescue and Restore
is indicative of this notion and lays framework to the most impressive piece of work in August Burns Red’s career.
It is literally
impossible to describe Rescue and Restore
without using the word relentless. Seriously, this is my eighth draft. The band has never been so absolutely on fire like this and it shows on every track. So to stay ahead of the me that would get ‘ahead of myself’ it seems only natural to start at the foundation of this album with opener “Provision” exploding out the gates setting a nearly uncatchable pace the album deftly follows. For the first time in their careers they’ve created an Album: one that doesn’t contain songs of them simply shredding or destroying all the china to be found, R&R
contains August Burns Red, a band that was once uncontrollable in compacting their ideas inside the length of songs they wanted to write, presenting their most focused effort ever. Diving into even more bold talk, ABR can be identified with having the best rhythm section in (insert your considered genre here). It’s been hinted at since Messenger’s
, that this band contained the greatest drummer for some time, kudos to Matt Greiner, but now he’s been delivered a boost with bassist Dustin Davidson who frenetically keeps up in certifiable fashion, with the sorta-instrumental “Creative Captivity” that has the entire band feeding off each other’s solemnness, easily the most depressive worship song released this decade, to the crushing radio single “Fault Line” that will absolutely never be played on any radio station because it’s still not Pillar
enough. August Burns Red somehow find a way to take each song found on R&R
and it expand it tenfold eleven times.
And how refreshing is that to read? I sure did get a quench from typing it. It’s not too far of a leap back in the past to recall some of this bands most horrid production decisions, which made the task of distinguishing between instruments, let alone songs, awfully difficult; those unfortunate missteps have haunted the band up until this moment, and that bitter tasting Leveler
resonates loudly behind the mythos of R&R
’s revitalization procedure, because it boasted all the bands wrongs conveniently stored on one disc. From the beginning this has needed to be the album that got everyone saying, “This is the album August Burns Red needed to make”. I’m not saying anyone was hitting the panic button in camp ABR because they certainly could have released another Constellations
, but that walk wouldn’t match the talk. So it’s fair to say there was at least some sense of desperation; “Treatment” – that song that dives off edge of sanity merely thirty seconds in, and “Count It All As Lost” – the one where the leads feed into Luhrs’ mouth effortlessly before exploding with a vicious bite that this band has never had, both have a huge sense of urgency to them, but my point is, it took that desperation to inject this newfound confidence into the band and it seems to have made them all the better for it.
There isn’t too much comfort to be gathered from the album as the rug is in constant danger of being ripped from underneath you. It’s an exciting surprise upon first listen because it means there’s depth and the songs are going to take more than three listens to soak in completely. To a greater regard though it’s a sign that August Burns Red are finally comfortable challenging
their fan base. This occurs musically but also lyrically a much needed area of improvement; “Fault Line” does this most brazenly and the song is able to overcome a few blunders to reach its intended effect, contrasting the power within music. In fact Luhrs seems on a mission boldly questioning everything from religious structures to his own personal hell’s, the strength in Rescue and Restore
comes from its diversity and maintained attitude among each topic while smartly sounding cohesive in the grand scheme of things. Luhrs still struggles in over dramatic clichés (“Let this song be your motivation, Let this song be your inspiration”) sounding off themes that aren’t too far from a certain PBS kids show, but he’s dropped the urge to help usher in the breakdowns, gone are the “Go’s!” and “Yeah’s!”, regardless, he’s wisely matched his imagery with his vocals so even if he is screaming for my heart at least he sounds good doing it.
I whispered earlier of a few errors Rescue and Restore
contain and it should be noted that they’re more unnecessary detours than failures. “Spirit Breaker” has the unfortunate label of ‘Deja Vu’ sounding ripped straight from Constellations
with very little effort given to distinguish it as otherwise. The song also boasts one of two spoken word passages on the album, which is fine, but it only adds to the length of a track that would have benefitted from a nice trimming. On top of that it’s focused on a “chorus”, which, again, is fine, but August Burns Red have never handled molding their brute sound around a pop cliché. This is even more evident with “Fault Line” a song built around a hook that is needlessly attached because it doesn’t occur ‘til the final minute, which is a shame because the previous three are so much more entertaining. Thankfully the band right the ship almost immediately. “Beauty In Tragedy” offsets the commercialism of “Fault Line” so well by being catchy within its progression that it makes you wonder why they forced the issue with the former at all. In fact, “Beauty In Tragedy” is such a solid testament to the bands ability to smoothen out their aggression naturally
that it’s a shame the song will never have the distinction of being labeled a “single” let alone being on a radio
There’s a point, and I’ll tell you exactly where you can find it, that you just have to take a second and catch your breath because Christian metal bands do not, I repeat, do not
go this hard. That point is “Sincerity” precisely two minutes and thirty seconds in. The track has roughly fifty seconds left and has the audacity to continue building
with the double bass kicking, Jake Luhrs ripping through lows he’s never touched before and the drumming and every string instrument trying to outgun each other with technicality. It’s a daring song that goes against the August Burns Red formula in every fashion. “Sincerity” succeeds though by sounding like it’s the last song the band will ever write. But before you even reach that point, the song has already alternated ascending and descending twenty-nine times that it would be completely acceptable for the band to bow out of the song gracefully for the final sixty seconds; it’s a good song up until that point and they certainly prove their talent and then some with it, but it doesn’t end, and that
, ladies and gentlemen, is the point.
What a complete experience Rescue and Restore
proves to be. The evidence of growth is hard to ignore and while the clincher comes late in the game “Animals” proves that August Burns Red are capable of carrying metal. As does “Echoes”. Oh, and “The First Step”. This trio closes off the album with resounding force and that desperation finally breathes confidence. I can’t pin-point the moment this time but somewhere between “Animals’” absolutely insane intro with Luhrs pushing his voice to the limit, “Echoes’” defiantly showing me up and incorporating the most soul-filled moment on the disc, and “The First Step” heeding nothing and ending the disc with an exclamation mark refusing to simmer down (It took everything in my power not to mention the shrieks and ruin the surprise, so, you’re welcome) we have a band that sounds like they’ve been doing this all their life. And maybe they have. I was listening to this band before R&R
, it was only recently I questioned why, now I have my answer.