Review Summary: To skeptics, Rescue and Restore provides proof that “metalcore” is alive and well. While fans will find that the album plays as another gem in the veteran band’s impressive repertoire.
Quite often metalcore is afflicted with a generalization of mediocrity. Be it from the near-recent surge of synthcore, or its formulaic mode of production, the genre has been tarnished with a plight of banality. Bands like Attack, Attack and Asking Alexandria, have created this stigma, asserting that a sound technical skill-set is no longer a requisite of “hardcore” musicianship. And with their undue popularity, the notion could ostensibly be true. This is why innovators such as August Burns Red come as such an amelioration of faith. They are practicing objections to this stigma and, through their career, have enshrined themselves as mainstays of the genre.
Rescue and Restore
is arguably the Pennsylvanian pentad’s best release yet. Following nearly eight months after the Christmas themed Sledding’ Hill
, the album carries a heavy reminiscence of 2011’s Leveler
. In it, the band utilizes many of the successes of their past albums, continuing their experimentation with styles disparate to the genre. Like always, this was received as refreshing reminder that metalcore is not limited to its staple sound, (despite being occasionally interpreted as awkward and pretentious).
The eleven-track LP opens with “Provisions”, a premiere that has developed into the album’s most popular song. Specifically, “Provisions” is a highly enjoyable addition; but macroscopically, it’s a reputable opening that foreshadows the album’s technical derivation. The song gives the listener an honest preview to the album, with most of the subsequent tracks playing at an equal caliber.
In the LP, front man Jake Luhrs is able to showcase his guttural lows, which have matured admirably since Messengers
. However, as is the case with most veteran vocalists, Jake’s range has suffered impediment, as he is seemingly no longer able to hit the screeching highs found in the band’s prior releases. Nevertheless, his vocals in conjunction with the album’s lyrics have created quite a visceral experience. Lyrically, Rescue and Restore
carries an ulterior Christian theme. But the undertones are just that; they supplement the atmosphere of the album, while avoiding a sense of doctrinal preaching.
The instrumentals of the release stand as a grand achievement. The band skillfully manipulates the magnitude and intensity of their music, in a fashion analogous to “comic relief”. Meaning, they are able to offset their heavier moments with unorthodox writing. Airy guitars and sweeping drums allow the band’s breakdowns to stand out. The album also features a nearly ubiquitous inclusion of orchestral instruments, which were implemented carefully and with taste. Furthermore, Matt Greiner's drumming sets a great base for the rest of the band. He is subtle when he needs to be, and ruthless when it’s warranted. The guitar work, from a technical perspective is outstanding and the band has progressed as unified production in every regard. Both JB Brubaker and Brent Rambler are able make interesting and memorable riffs that act as the foundation of a great album. As a whole, the albums mastering seems very balanced, with no specific member outshining another’s performance. This leaves many instances for Dustin Davidson's bass lines to seep into the forefront of the track and showcase some phenomenal guitar work..
As for its individual songs, Rescue and Restore
offers a wide range, all which stem from a truly eclectic tree of influence. And although some may not be as remarkable as others, the album is by no means monotonous. From the torrential mathcore influences of “Animals”, to the emotional provocations of “Beauty in Tragedy”, the album is pleasingly diverse. “Creative Captivity” is the album’s de facto interlude. The song truly exhibits ABR’s capacity to write in outside genres. However, its ambition is also its hamartia. “Creative Captivity” is sporadic and at times capricious. The mood veers sharply, from Jake’s bestial lows, to the underwater ambiance of the guzheng, to the elegiac tributes of a lone trumpet. Conclusively, the song is too unrefined to be attributed as a success. Conversely, “Fault Line” plays as a simple, yet great song. It displays how the band can create an all-around enjoyable track, without an oppressive focus on sheer originality. Moreover, the outro of the song “Echoes” is one of the most anthemic and memorable endings ever recorded by ABR. This leads to the only regrettable aspect of the album’s internal chronology: the fact that “Echoes” didn't finalize it. The song leaves the listener with such a satisfying feeling, that listing it as anything but the ultimate track hinders final mood of the album.
Overall, Rescue and Restore
is one of the best metalcore releases in recent years. It has breathed new life into a dying genre, and will hopefully inspire future musicians achieve similar success. The album is able to soar where Levelers
could not, specifically regarding the inclusion of unorthodox instrumentals. And it is this resolve that allows August Burns Red to remain on the forefront of the metalcore scene.