ALBUM REVIEW: August Burns Red – ‘Guardians’

Words by Thom Hawk

The two-time GRAMMY® Award-nominated quintet of August Burns Red are back with vengeance with their eighth full length studio album ‘Guardians’. For 17 years ABR have graced us with their heavy riffs and hard hitting vocals. Their new album is no different. Full of breakdowns that will make you need to see a chiropractor the next day and vocals that hit deep into your soul. If you’re a fan of August Burns Red then you’ll definitely love this album.

The opener of the album The Narrative which as it says, sets the narrative for the record. Melodic yet heavy guitar brings us into the world of ‘Guardians’ with a sense of security and intrigue, before Jake Luhrs comes and destroys all sense of safety with a guttural growl which leads straight into the verse that makes you start head banging and thrashing about. Bones straight from the start hits you in the chest with a wall of guitar and heavy vocals. What’s great about this track is there’s really nice peaks and troughs of heavy but also slower melodic and parts with clean vocals. JB Brubaker brings us a tasty melodic solo that continues while Lurhs crushes it with his gritty vocals and some cleaner vocals coming out on top. The ending of Bones ties perfectly in with the start of Paramount with a slow fade in of clean guitars which kicks into a fast melodic riff that you would hear in a video game or comic book boss fight. Through the verse Brent Rambler is holding down a sweet rhythm while Brubaker plays some tasteful leads over the top. There are two smaller breakdowns which divide the song into different sections, the latter taking us back into the verse riff and vocals.

“The song Defender is about having that person who can come in and take some punches for you, and be in your corner during hard times,” says Rambler. “I am quite the comic book fan and I thought the lyrics could easily turn into an awesome animated short story — kind of like if the pages of a comic were to come to life. Luckily, everyone else agreed and we have this sick video to go along with the song.”

Being the first song released from ‘Guardians’ it gives us a great sneak peek into how the rest of the album is going to play out. Defender is what we all love about August Burns Red. The vocals will rip your face off while the guitars tell their own story and complement the lyrics. When I first heard this song I was blown away by the breakdown. It’ll wreck your neck and your chiropractor won’t be a fan. I can easily picture many circle pits and even a wall of death from this song!

Lighthouse, I would say, is the ballad of the album. It’s heavy, melodic and takes you away. The snare hits you like a wave crashing into a lighthouse in a heavy storm.

Take another look around, There’s so much lost to be found”

We are graced by a spoken word section towards the end of the song. It hits deep into the core feelings and power of this track. Lighthouse is a powerhouse of feelings.

The middle of the record is the peak of the story with songs that bring all types of emotions to the table. Dismembered Memory and Ties That Bind are both songs that use legato styles in their intros which is a soothing break for your ears. The verses are hard hitting and they don’t hold back any punches with the breakdowns. Extinct by Instinct graces us with a brilliant bass line and solo from Dustin Davidson, which leads straight into the guttural vocals of Jake and crushing guitars. 

The culminating song of the record ‘Three Fountains’ has a soft slightly distorted intro with soothing clean guitar and drums. It makes you feel like the journey of the album is coming to an end. The beat is slower and somewhat relaxing. Lurhs does a great job at tying all the songs and emotions that they have raised together. There are heavy riffs woven between the clean parts which create an interesting but lovable dynamic. ‘Three Fountains’ is a heavy ballad full of powerful poetry and punchy melodic riffs. It is an amazing way to top off a brilliant album. 

“Guardians is the culmination of a complete and total team effort,” says Brubaker. Dustin and I collaborated musically more than we ever have before. Jake and Brent collaborated vocally more than they ever have before. Matt bounced more drum ideas off of us than we could even comprehend. It was the most time we’ve ever spent in the studio on one album. We’re all so proud of this record, and we can’t wait to share it with the world.”

‘Guardians’ is out Friday April 3 on Fearless Records/Caroline Australia. The album is available for pre-order/pre-save here

With thanks to Collision Course

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