Relatively speaking, August Burns Red are certainly of elder-statesmen status at this moment in time, and their ninth album ‘Guardians’ arrives at a perfect time for some.
Opener ‘The Narrative’ begins with a strong riff and comes roaring out the traps, making for an impressive start. August Burns Red‘s brand of metalcore doesn’t reinvent the wheel but provides lots of enjoyment if you like it done well. The blast section that leads into a crushing breakdown makes for one of the most invigorating moments on the album.
With ‘Bones’, the change of rhythm from the previous track is apparent, with more of a swinging feel, and it certainly keeps the heaviness up.
‘Paramount’ is on the clichéd side in places, but nevertheless delivers on what it sets out to do and has a solid hook. ‘Defender’ has a somewhat surprising mosh call too, and a weighty ending breakdown.
‘Lighthouse’ also has a memorable vocal hook, and Jake Luhrs‘ spoken word vocal passages add an extra layer of depth, and with ‘Dismembered Memory’, we have the best riff on the album.
Possessing impressive chops as ever, August Burns Red know what they do and they do it well – inherently a positive trait, considering how some bands filed under the metalcore banner have tried to experiment and misfired woefully in recent years. Still, if you’re looking for something as expansive that this type of music can be, you do have to wait until the closing handful of tracks for some material which delivers on that front.
Songs like ‘Extinct By Instinct’ showcase their occasional similarities to bands like Between The Buried And Me, both with their technical prowess and its acoustic-guitar-led break in the middle.
‘Three Fountains’ is an ambitious closer, with a slow build-up at the start into a powerful vocal hook from Luhrs, and an interesting break in the middle acts as a tease for the build-up that follows. The clean vocal passage of “in the air, in the air” may be a little bit cheesy, but it’s certainly something memorable and believable.
‘Guardians’ is all-in-all a solid album that will undoubtedly satisfy August Burns Red fans. It’s hard to guess whether you’d get much out of it if you’re not already sold by what they’ve delivered thus far in their career, or indeed of some of their contemporaries, but when it comes to this type of music, you could certainly do a lot worse.