August Burns Red - Guardians

Band: August Burns Red

Album: Guardians

Genre: Metalcore

Label: Solid State

Location: Lancaster, Pennsylvania

FFO: As I Lay Dying, For Today, The Ghost Inside

August Burns Red is always on top of things when it comes to a great production. The quality and mix are such an important part of their sound. Guardians has that golden touch you expect out of them. The instrumentals are crisp while the overall sound stays dirty. One of my favorite touches they have in certain songs are electronic parts that just add to the fullness. 

Although this LP has its own identity and form, it very much gave me ‘Constellations’ vibes. They without a doubt brought back that harder driving sound they used back in the day. Not everything on here is a long musical like in ‘Found in Far Away Places’. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that album, but with this, they in a way combined that artistic style with the straightforward aggression. With that brings us arguably their heaviest song to date, ‘Bloodletter’. At first, it shows a slightly heavier side to it but eventually gets into a nice solo, which ultimately ends in a minute long breakdown. Songs like that or ‘Extinct by Instinct’ are two good examples. ‘Lighthouse’ features what seems to be the cleanest vocals they've ever had and even some spoken word. This was a boundary crossing song for a couple reasons but the result was very good. They managed to try new sounds without taking too big of a leap. The lyrics, much like other albums of theirs, are very uplifting. Always brought with intensity and sometimes certain situations/topics, but the end message is always a lesson learned. Sometimes it can be meant for the listener, other times it might be for himself, but very relatable. The single ‘Defender’ is a great example of this. He is referencing himself in his own point of view through his faith, but the other angle of it can be taken in and perceived by anyone in their own way. These lyrics almost never come across as typical either. Usually more positive lyrics can get repetitive. But Jake is a great writer who has a way of wording things that don’t make it come across that way. I also think it’s cool when a metal band breaks those sort of stereotypes that metal music only talks about negative/dark stuff all the time. ABR never has filler. Every line and note in every song has its purpose. Every song itself has its own breath and never feels like they just threw something together. The album finishes with what I can only describe as a sonic masterpiece. The atmosphere of it is extremely powerful even without the meaningful lyrics. It’s a perfect way to end the record. 

After the couple listens I gave it, I only want to keep playing it. This is easily an every day album for a while. They combine everything I enjoy about their sound into one record. The heaviness, melodies, solos, speed, rhythm, more ‘singy’ vocals and aggressive vocals. All these factors and more come together in full force to make Guardians what it is. I enjoyed their previous record, but this has much more of a spice to it. As of right now from what I can tell, there’s nothing I can complain about. 

As a band who remains very consistent throughout the years, every album that releases has some rather big shoes to fill when it comes to matching their discography. I’m very happy to say that this album fits right in with everything else. ABR continues to impress with every record. From lyrical topics to JB’s amazing guitar licks and Matt’s drum work, they always remain true to who they are but keep things creative and fresh.

Rating: 10/10

Strongest Song: Defender, Empty Heaven


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