August Burns Red rise to the top of the 2013 heap of album releases with the wonderfully oppressive Rescue and Restore.
The golden boys of the metal-core scene are back and have perfected their blend of melody, technicality and brutality into a stellar album. First, let us divest of some pretentious notions on the genre and this band specifically. This is not whiney, screamo metal-core replete with songs about ex-girlfriends and past regrets. This is not breakdown riddled bro-core music for “brootal” kids to gush over (and the progressive metal fans to collectively soil themselves about). This is no typical Jesus/God heavy Christian band with a bunch of screaming about prayers and belief. This is a beautiful mix of the best hardcore and technical, borderline progressive metal that you are going to hear this year (and maybe for even the past few years). This is a release with weight behind it, a little under an hour of crushing riffs, tasteful interludes, progressive song structures and heart-felt lyrics. Five albums into their career and August Burns Red has found their sweet spot.
The most immediate thing one notices on Rescue and Restore is the musicianship of the band. Every member is at the top of their game here. JB Brubaker (lead) and Brent Rambler (rhythm) lead the sonic assault with an outstanding mix of off-signature time changes, melodic solos and chord structures that straddle that perfect line between complexity and eloquent simplicity. Keeping pace the entire time are bassist Dustin Davidson and drummer Matt Grenier. The drums are a stand-out performance for Grenier and is some of the best metal drum work in recent years. Vocalist Jake Luhrs is un-godly here, eschewing the traditional metal-core sing/scream mix, he prefers to go straight for the kill with a relentless yet varied scream the entire release. I have thrown the word progressive out there a few times, and the aspects I speak of here are the effective integration of clean guitars, stings, and other various instruments to great effect. Past experimentation from the band in this direction has achieved mixed results, not this time however. Every interlude is well timed and effective amidst the tradition hardcore structure. To point out specifics the song ‘Creative Capacity’ is a must hear track for any fan of music (not just metal). One would think the band pretentious with the eclectic mix of instruments they have in the song (I swear I heard a xylophone…) but it just works.
To give an example of the variance here the next track (‘Fault Line’) encroaches on Death Metal territory with gnarly blast beats and some downright demonic growling. Each song contributes to the overall whole of the album, and repeated listening had me enjoying every track more and more each time. I appreciate the fact that while the band states they are all Christians they do not beat their fans over the head with it. Too often artists will use their faith as a selling point. This atheist appreciates that I do not have to hear preaching and praying every five minutes. After years working on perfecting their blend of melody and hardcore August Burns Red have found their sanctuary. If you are a long-time fan or a first time listener, this is the release for 2013.
3. Spirit Breaker
4. Count It All As Lost
6. Creative Capacity
7. Fault Line
8. Beauty In Tragedy
11. The First Step