Burnin’ up

In the face of national and regional budget cuts, the arts and art education are some of the first items on the chopping block. While there’s no shortage of vocal advocates rallying in support, metalcore outfit August Burns Red might be yelling the loudest, both literally and figuratively, with its latest album, Rescue & Restore.

“The title is a nod to how nowadays, when kids go to school, instead of embracing the arts, they get pushed away from them,” guitarist Brent Rambler said. “Unless they major in math or science, they won’t go anywhere in life. In the state of Florida, there was a law pushed forward to give kids who pursued engineering, science or history a grant of $10,000 versus the kids who went to school for the arts, and I thought that was awful. Without music, art, literature … there’s no culture, and you’ve taken a lot of what makes life so great away.”

The Pennsylvania-based five-piece now has a decade of screaming at the top of its lungs under its belt, taking its brand of Christian hardcore and expanding it to a wider audience, especially in its last three studio albums: 2009’s Constellations, 2011’s Leveler and this year’s Rescue & Restore.

“Musically, this is easily the most diverse thing we’ve ever done,” Rambler said of Rescue, released in June. “We were proud to push the envelope a little. We knew we wanted to make a more sprawling record. We didn’t sit down and decide exactly what it would be, but it was more of a sense of letting whatever came out come out.”

To ensure it stretched out past its comfort zone, August Burns Red sought out producers for the first time since it came together.

“We recorded this record with friends who recorded our first demos ever,” Rambler said. “We knew coming in that we wanted to do new things and push our boundaries a little bit, and they felt like the right people to help us do that.”

The calculated risk paid off, and August Burns Red — stopping in Oklahoma City’s Diamond Ballroom on Thursday — was rewarded with the first top 10 Billboard debut of its career.

“It’s our fifth original full-length, and that we could come in and debut in the top 10 — our highest-charting spot ever — it feels great,” Rambler said. “To last a decade-plus these days, well, it doesn’t seem like that happens all too often.”