August Burns Red: Rescue & Restore
Posted June 25, 2013
August Burns Red is undoubtedly the face of Christian hardcore music today. The breakup of Underoath earlier this year and the current status of As I Lay Dying cemented ABR as today's biggest Christian metal band. Rescue & Restore, the band's fifth studio album (not counting last year's Christmas album), is quite possibly the band's most diverse and intriguing work to date. The 11 track album features a wide array of instruments - from the trumpet to the piano - something not oft done in the hardcore genre. I felt like for their last album, Leveler, they were kind of stuck in a rut of trying to maintain their old sound but yet wanting to experiment a little, which is why I was not a huge fan of the album. With Rescue & Restore, however, the band fully fleshed out their creative side and decided to try many things that make this album genre-defining and one of the this year's best albums.
The album opens with "Provisions," which I would describe as leaning more towards classic August Burns Red. The band decided to play it a little safe with the first track, but still showed off some off their handiwork very well with brutal vocals and intense breakdowns. The longest song on the record, "Treatment," follows in what may be the heaviest songs on the record. Every time Luhrs screams "Open the gates!" on the song I get shivers down my spine. The first two minutes of the song are gut-wrenching metal, but then the band pulled some creativity out of their hat and brought in an acoustic guitar and violin for the next minute. This contrast in the heaviness of the song with the melodic one-minute guitar/violin interlude was genius and adds another dimension to the song which would not have been attainable with the old August Burns Red.
Track three, "Spirit Breaker," is definitely one of the more melodic tracks on the record, making it a great follow-up to the very heavy "Treatment." The openness and vulnerability of the track was what first hit me when I listened to the song. One of my favorite lines on the song is when Luhrs says, "I hope to open my eyes to see this picture. I'm throwing it all away. I hope to open my eyes to see this moment that I should treasure forever." Then about three-quarters of the way through the song Luhrs speaks to his "dearest love," in a little spoken word piece. "Count It All As Lost" is another track which I would describe as being a little more classic ABR. Some of the guitar work reminds me of a few of their previous songs, but the vocals definitely feel a bit more intense - Luhrs seems much more urgent and passionate on this record.
"Sincerity," the shortest song on the record - clocking in at 3:18 - has some of the best gang vocals I have heard on a metal song in a long time, which paired with very intense breakdowns makes for a very strong track. "Creative Captivity" is another one of the more melodic tracks with the widest assortment of instruments I have ever heard on a metal song yet. The track also features one of my favorite lines from the album, which also happens to be where the album title comes from, "This is a cause worth fighting for. We will rescue and restore!" And the trumpet at the end of the song is well worth the price of the album alone. "Fault Line," the band's first single from Rescue & Restore, features some of the best guitar and drum work on the whole album. I love it when Luhrs screams, "Whisper your grief, scream your sorrow, proclaim your love. Just don't call me your hero!"
"Beauty in Tragedy" has quickly become my favorite track on the record. From the brutal breakdowns and instrumentals to the spoken word piece in the middle of the song to the incredibly honest lyrics, this song is the best piece of art on the album. The last lines of the song may be some of my favorite lyrics ever penned by the band. "Never surrender the dream you had for this world. To love. To forgive. To make something out of nothing!" The next track, "Animals," is easily highlighted by the drum work of Matthew Greiner. I have long said that Greiner is the best drummer today, and I believe this track easily confirms that. "Echoes" again shows the urgency of Luhrs lyrics and vocals. He screams, "I can't take much more of this! Where is my way out?" The final track, "The First Step," has easily the most brutal vocals from Luhrs on the whole album. His screams will send chills through your whole body.
August Burns Red is clearly a veteran band, but fortunately for us they decided not to dwell on their past successes and instead created something completely different from the rest of their catalogue. Rescue & Restore is unlike any hardcore album I have ever listened to, and I cannot stop listening to it. The passion in Luhrs lyrics and vocals, the brutal breakdowns, and the wide array of instruments all combine to form one of the most complete works of art released so far this year.
Favorite Song: Beauty in Tragedy
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