Release Date: April 3, 2020 Genre: Metalcore, Metal Label: Fearless Records
The Pennsylvania metalcore quintet August Burns Red returns with their impressive, continuously catchy and melodic ninth studio album, Guardians. The band has been going strong for the last seventeen years with a majority of original members still intact and after the success of their previous album, Phantom Anthem, which garnered two Grammy Award nominations, the band continues to deliver their melodic metalcore stylings for their ever-growing dedicated fan base on these eleven tracks that are now known as Guardians.
August Burns Red took a different approach to the writing and recording of Guardians as the band hunkered down in the studio during periods throughout 2019 to write and record the album in a few parts, rather than in one singular cluster, resulting in the most time they’ve taken to complete an album. Purposely trying to create their best work they could possibly write. August Burns Red wrote and recorded the album in York, Pennsylvania at Think Loud Studios with their longtime producers, Carson Slovak and Grant McFarland.
“After the first session, we had months to think about what we might want to change. We never had this much time and liberty for production. It enabled everyone to be more critical and think about putting an individual stamp on the songs. Think Loud, was also the nicest facility we’ve ever tracked in. We had tons of room to work and be creative. We’re super proud of the final product. Dustin and I collaborated more than we have in the past as well. Typically, one person will write a whole song and send it to the band. We all got to contribute here,” says lead guitarist, JB Brubaker.
Throughout the entirety of Guardians, it features the loose underlying theme of being there for another person who’s reaching out for help. A concept that drummer, Matt Greiner, wanted to write about on one or more tracks on the album. This theme was also an idea that recurred for the members of August Burns Red as they put the album together as a whole over the various stints within the studio throughout the last year.
“Bones,” which is the albums second track and also coincidentally the second single off Guardians starts slowly at first before becoming a fast, catchy, yet melodic track that follows the subject matter of how certain acceptable (and unacceptable) traits of a person are etched within a human beings soul or bones. “It’s in our bones to be benevolent / It’s in our souls to be of service / It’s in our bones to be benevolent / It’s in our souls.”
“Defender” is the fourth track on Guardians as well as the album's lead single. The track was one of the first tracks written for, Guardians. It’s the main track of the album that really hits the hammer to the nail on the loose underlying theme previously mentioned, of somebody being there for another person who’s reaching out for help. “I need a defender / A voice that shakes to calm the quake / I need a defender who bends and breaks in my place.”
“Lyrically, I wanted to write about being able to reach out to someone. We all need a person who can take the punches for us when we need them to. We need a defender who bends, so we don’t break. The music matched perfectly.” Says drummer, Matt Greiner.
“Lighthouse” is another catchy tune on the eleven-track effort that touches on the topic of helping others who need a helping hand and how one can be a good Samaritan for a person in need. “Take another look around / There is so much lost to be found / People everywhere are hurting, even though they’re counted out / There is so much lost to be found.”
A couple of stand-out tracks worth mentioning are “Bloodletter,” which notably is the album’s heaviest track, if not one of August Burns Red’s heaviest tracks to date. As well, Guardians comes to its culmination with the track “Three Fountains.” The track is a near six-and-a-half-minute epic with the most excellent feel to end off, Guardians on a high note.
While the band did take a different approach than previous albums on Guardians, it proved effective as August Burns Red hit it out of the park with what is the perfect collection of music for the band's fans and metal fans alike. While it draws the same vibe from all their previous albums, Guardians maintains constant catchy choruses throughout, displays a slightly slower side of the band at times, and certainly keeps the high octane energy from beginning to end.
“We just want the fans who have been supporting us year in and year out to feel like we put out the best possible record we could make. I hope they sit down and smile when they listen to it -and want to see it [performed] live.” Concludes guitarist, Brent Rambler.
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