They push themselves to higher rungs of musicianship, where weeks of jaw-clenching rehearsals pay off. Technicality and willingness to inject variety in their arrangements demonstrates how much this Lancaster, PA. band has risen above its schoolboy scream and thunderchunk background.
The manic opener “Provision” at first slap seems like standard metalcore fare. Everything comes off as a disjointed shish kabob where the only metal is in the skewer that holds the pieces together. It’s all high-low screaming about who knows what, guitar parts tripping all over themselves and dynamics ridiculously porked up in order to deflect judgment over the lame breakdowns. Rescue & Restore suffers this syndrome throughout… at first listen.
Early on, the trash and blast of “Treatment” starts the Easter egg hunt by hiding a hypersonic triangle ting here and there. “Treatment” is one of the more obvious message songs on “Rescue & Restore.” It proclaims hope in spiritual redemption. Chapter and verse references go unmentioned.
Late in the album, around the time “Fault Line” shows up, an odd sense that there is something more going on begins to claw at the old cerebellum. The songs beg to be heard again, like a gaggle of 11 antsy teenagers whining that no one understands them.
Rescue & Restore requires a family counselor’s patience and a commitment to digging into what August Burns Red has complexly constructed. This is a dense album with more layers than filo dough, more surprises than a sister’s diary and more musical riches buried in every track than pistachios in a bag of trail mix.
Rescue & Restore’s mix is a co-conspirator in this shadow play. In the dark and claustrophobic mix, songs like “Animals” seem victimized by the faders of war. Yet if one buys into the idea that the band uses the mix as a seductive element, “Animals” yields up bit after bit of wonder with each revisit. The guitar lines unassumingly snake between crevices left open by the chord hammering. In the song’s middle, a jazz-tinged guitar impeccably underlines the dampened melody while a piano pulse trills then darts away.
“Animals” builds on surprising riffs with a strong middle-eastern theme. Buried in the storm clouds, a second guitar line riffs in reverb while the fundamental rhythm lines vary between concussion and quicksilver note runs. The arrangement summons the line again to soar above the end build and melt like emotional icing.
In all the bombast, the excellent drums and bass are curiously understated, though they nearly steal the show on “Count It All as Lost.” They manage to shape-shift every time an arrangement pops the clutch. Rescue & Restore is demanding and rewarding. Elbow past the metalcore whine and wade in toward the center of this crowded, difficult and ultimately stellar achievement.
(released June 25, 2013 on Solid State Records)