August Burns Red – Guardians
Released: April 3rd, 2020
Jake Luhrs – Vocals
JB Brubaker – Lead Guitar
Brent Rambler – Rhythm Guitar
Dustin Davidson – Bass
Matt Greiner – Drums
Pennsylvania quintet August Burns Red cannot seem to grasp the concept of slowing down (not that I’m complaining) as they gear up to release their ninth studio album, Guardians. In this band’s seventeen years of existence, they have been able to establish and maintain their position as one of the world’s most technically proficient metalcore acts, therefore making it no surprise that this album is so highly anticipated throughout heavy music communities across the globe.
Kicking off the album is ‘The Narrative’ which begins with an enticing guitar riff which is heavily complimented by Greiner’s strong drumming presence, which includes a plethora of double-kicks. I find Jake Luhrs to be a fantastic mid-range vocalist as he manages to consistently scream with the instrumentals, rather than on-top of them. This piece doesn’t fluctuate all that much throughout its duration, however, it does a terrific job at setting the pace for the entire album. With a guitar solo and melodic riffage being the focal point in ‘Bones’, ABR manages to display their flawless rhythm section, which is in my opinion, world-class. With twists and turns throughout this song, including an anthemic chorus which allows for a strong hook to flourish, this piece adds qualities that are new for this band, without having to stray from their usual niche.
‘Paramount’ holds powerful lyrics inclusive of “Walking through fire, you have a friend, stuck in a nightmare with a right to make it out”, which expresses that leaning into friends and family while times are tough will get you through whatever situations you may face. Maintaining their technically based prowess, this track almost seems as if it takes you on a journey, through backing vocals, intense drumming and ever so fluid guitar riffs. Next up is ‘Defender’ which begins with an atmospheric undertone before quickly bringing us back to this band’s usual pace. This single is a good representation of the album, however, it does not fluctuate in rhythm much, which I tend to think is a bit of wasted potential. the entire songs elude to a breakdown at the outro, which is a fantastic way to finish the song and it leaves you wanting more, which takes us to ‘Lighthouse’, which showcases some of the most melodic music in this band’s entire catalogue. I would call this song a successful step in a new direction, the song includes an abundance of clean vocals and back-up singing, which makes for a smooth listening experience.
Returning to the fast pace these fellas are known for, we are brought to ‘Dismembered Memory’ which begins which strong drumming as other instrumentals build up around them. Vocalist Jake shows off his impressive range and abilities in this piece as he manages to keep up with the fast instrumentals with ease. This is a stand out track on this album. The album’s direction seems to change with ‘Ties That Bind’ and ‘Bloodletter’ as the tempo fluctuates frequently, which manages to show off the guitarist’s technical abilities, not to mention Greiner’s awe-inspiring drumming. With hard-hitting punches and a breakdown that makes you think twice about calling a tow truck, this piece really shows us the best of August Burns Red.
‘Extinct by Instinct’ keeps the tempo high, while leaving room for bassist Dustin Davidson to flourish as he takes advantage of his time to shine with a brilliant bass solo, before returning to the harsh vocals of vocalist Jake. what I can picture becoming a staple at every ABR show is ‘Empty Heaven’, I say this because of the copious sing-along opportunities and mosh worthy chorus and breakdowns. This song is full of grooves, which has a ‘thrashy’ feel to it.
Closing out the album is ‘Three Fountains’, which is six and a half minutes in length, making it the albums longest track. This track manages to capture the entire album in one long song, there isn’t particularly anything we have seen in previous songs that we don’t see here, making this song the perfect closing song of the album.
August Burns Red seem to deliver outstanding records, one after the other. If you’re not yet a fan, it is never too late to experience what you have been missing out on and join the party.
August Burns Red – Guardians tracklisting:
- The Narrative
- Dismembered Memory
- Ties That Bind
- Extinct by Instinct
- Empty Heaven
- Three Fountains
Revisit our interview with Brent Rambler chatting all things Guardians right here