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August Burns Red - 'Guardians' Album Review


1. The Narrative

2. Bones

3. Paramount

4. Defender

5. Lighthouse

6. Dismembered Memory

7. Ties that Bind

8. Bloodletter

9. Extinct By Instinct

10. Empty Heaven

11. Three Fountains

On the back of two albums which both produced Grammy-nominated songs (‘Identity’ from 2015’s 'Found In Far Away Places', and ‘Invisible Enemy’ from 2017’s 'Phantom Anthem'), US Metal torchbearers August Burns Red have returned for their ninth studio album 'Guardians'.

Once more delivering their unique brand of Prog infused Metal, August Burns Red have produced what is potentially their heaviest hitting album up until this point, showing absolutely no signs of slowing down sixteen years into their career as a band.

'Guardians' is massive and sprawling. August Burns Red set themselves apart by typically refraining from standard song structure, often having songs without choruses, and this is no different within 'Guardians', with each song coming together to create a novel-like feeling, fittingly reflected in the title of the first track, ‘The Narrative’, which throws you in at the deep end with a beautifully intricate riff from lead guitarist John Benjamin "JB" Brubaker, which is then expanded on with the introduction of Jake Luhrs’ brutal lead vocals to create an amazingly heavy combination. You can tell every member of the band has pushed themselves harder and harder to achieve something new on this album.

My favourite track of the album comes in the form of the fourth track and second single of the album, ‘Defender’. Combining incredible riffage with punishing breakdowns, all soaked in an intense atmosphere, I feel like this is the track that best represents the album in its entirety, with everything the band can give being poured into the song.

It’s difficult to write about this album, as each song follows a similar formula to create something wholly unique in each case. This isn’t a criticism, however, as every song on this album is worth listening to repeatedly, as you can pay attention to different things each time and find something you didn’t notice before, from drummer Matt Greiner and bassist Dustin Davidson’s powerful rhythms and rhythm guitarist Brent Rambler’s amazing playing that strengthens and compliments Brubaker’s lead parts perfectly, 'Guardians' shows a band working together in perfect harmony after years of playing together. I would not be surprised if this album bagged the band another Grammy nomination, if not a Grammy win.

Review - Gordon Rae

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