Review Summary: Nothing to write home about, but you can be proud to match this up among your other ABR records and appreciate the progress they have made.
The latest release from August Burns Red strikes a nice balance between old and new. The songs on the album resemble their previous two releases "Constellations" and "Leveler" in many ways. Personally it feels like Leveler was a stumbling point for them; a time when they were evolving to where they are now. They have continued in that evolution, resulting in the much more refined album, "Rescue & Restore."
The most significant aspect of the album is the direction the sound has gone. There is a lot of emphasis on contrast in the melodies throughout the songs. This style of performance should be familiar to anyone who has heard their music in the past, but they have clearly changed their sound. The result is sharper turns and more song segments that are polar. "Treatment" provides a perfect example of very dark, dissonant pieces, followed immediately by a brighter sounding segment. ABR does a fair job at using this to effectively convey their message and keep the songs interesting.
"Creative Captivity" is the title track for the album, although you wouldn't know without listening to it. The song is nicely put together, resembling its name. Using horns with alternative percussion and string instruments, it is reminiscent of some indie math rock, particularly "Elk" by This Town Needs Guns. Even though the song itself sounded good, I'll have to admit it sounded quite out of place among the sounds and styles of the other tracks. Rather than taking it out, they probably could have used a similar approach to a few other songs.
As for those other tracks, you can expect them to all be pretty good songs. There are some nice hooks throughout, as well as those heavy technical guitar riffs they are known for. As usual there is a strong emphasis on instrumentals. Songs like "Count it All Lost" and "The First Step" pack crushing, high intensity riffs and vocals. While there's plenty to headbang to, those are surely two to keep in mind. "Echoes" and "Spirit Breaker" have more emphasis on softer segments and serve well to break up the constant barrage brought on by the other tracks.
Another song that sits slightly out of place from the rest of the album is "Animals." It has that Eastern kind of "Powerslave" sound that I am partial to. It immediately reminds me of "Wasted Words" from the latest As I Lay Dying release. It doesn't at all sound the same, but it serves the same purpose on the album. Not only does it do a good job of keeping this release interesting, but it's also one of the better songs on the album in general.
Instrumentally, August Burns Red has always had a solid execution. The direction the sound is going in is pleasant, and most of the songs are pretty well composed in that respect. There isn't much to say about the vocals. Jake Luhrs has always had a fitting vocal style, and that hasn't changed. Occasionally you will notice that he gets more guttural than ever before, but only for a moment. There are also a few segments of plain speech in "Beauty In Tragedy" and "Spirit Breaker," significant only because you don't have to Google the lyrics to figure out what he's saying like everything else.
Like most albums, about half of these songs are really good, and the other half feels like filler. None of the songs were just plain unpleasant or boring, which says a lot considering I usually despite a couple songs on a release. Some songs just lack the depth and composition to make it on my playlist. Admittedly, they have come a long way from their roots in those short-lived hardcore years. With all things considered, "Rescue & Restore" is a really good record in my opinion. Nothing to write home about, but you can be proud to match this up among your other ABR records and appreciate the progress they have made.