August Burns Red have been around for 10 years now, after arriving on that huge wave of metalcore bands in the early naughties. They’ve never quite managed to reach the same level of worldwide acclaim that bands like Bullet For My Valentine, Trivium and even their fellow christian metallers The Devil Wears Prada, who have climbed slightly higher on the ladder of recognition. This could be because the whole ‘Jesus’ thing does often create a barrier with audiences outside of the States, but ABR have always released decent albums, although each with only one or two outstanding tracks on.
Their latest release, ‘Rescue & Restore’, does show a few changes and new directions for the band, a single song on this album changes tempo and direction much more than ABR‘s previous tracks. Whilst you can appreciate that August Burns Red are trying to mix up their songwriting, this really just exemplifies their biggest flaw even more. The lack of bangers. ABR have just never managed to write that huge song that blows them up to the size of other metalcore bands, like Bury Tomorrow and Trivium.
It’s not like clean vocals are needed to write these big songs; Parkway Drive manage to write some of the biggest sounding songs in metal without clean singing, they just use mega production to make those chorus stand out. This raises another point: the production on this album is fairly flat. No choruses ever jump out, no riffs ever hit you around the face, and that’s what you want metalcore to do.
Tune-wise, however, it’s nothing bad, but it’s also nothing great or new. It’s just more ABR style songs, with the structure slightly changed. ‘Capture Creativity’ is a pretty cool intermission kind of song, it’s mostly instrumental featuring a wide range of instruments and sounds, even a mariachi-esque trumpet at the end. In fact, the last minute and a half of that song is one of the most surprising things ABR have written. There are one or two decent tunes on ‘Rescue & Restore’, such as ‘Beauty In Tragedy’, ‘The First Step’ and the melodic hardcore sounding, ‘Echoes’.
And so, August Burns Red keep delivering us a handful of decent tracks one average album at a time. This is in no way a complaint, but there does come a time when a band will need to take a risk and make a change in sound in order to make a real impression. Oh, and no, their 2012 Christmas themed album does not count as a change in sound.
Written by Jack King