August Burns Red – Guardians: Album Review

Guardians by August Burns Red is easily one of the most anticipated metal records of this year. Anything but perfection here would be a disaster, handily perfection is what we get.

Release Date: 3rd April March 2020

Label: Fearless Records

Formats: CD / LP / Digital

The last release from August Burns Red was a 10th-anniversary remix of their 2009 album Constellations. Constellations is an utterly spellbinding album, the outstanding technical songcraft and sheer power balanced by melody and grace that are rare commodities in a metal album.

Pretty much every album (yes, even the holiday record) from ABR has followed in a similar vein, each one stretching the boundaries of what a metal album is supposed to be a little more than the last. The last studio album from August Burns Red was Phantom Anthem in 2017, which I have to admit has been a regular part of my metal diet since it was released.

Given the current world chaos, the technical wall of metal that slams into your face as you begin August Burns Red’s Guardians album is as fitting as it is cathartic. ‘Narrative’ starts the album with instantly recognisable guitar work from John Benjamin that slams into a face-ripping riff. Blast beats and laser-guided technicality that sent the whole genre in catch-up mode back in 2003 when ABR burst onto the scene are everywhere.

A few tracks in and there is something darker here though, it’s the usual maelstrom of ingredients but it’s a notably heavier album than Phantom Anthem. The melodies that makeup August Burns Red’s DNA are still alive and kicking, but the rhythm and power has been nudged up a little and the overall result is very definitely darker.

As is the way these days there have been a few digital singles released from Guardians already, Defender, Bones and Paramount.  These are a really good indication of what to expect from Guardians. This isn’t an album with a few special tracks, this is one of those records that runs from end to end, keeping your attention hostage until the final beat fades.

Recorded at Spectre Studios just like most of their other records, it carries on the sound signature that we’ve come to lust after.  Clean and powerful. Admittedly, it’s a tiny bit too compressed for my taste but this is the modern way and there is no denying that it sounds massive.

For the audio purists out there the vinyl version is likely to offer a less compressed experience. I’d order one quickly though. From previous experience it’s unlikely they’ll press many and so they’re likely to become expensive and rare commodities.

August Burns Red albums take a while to burn their way into your soul so I’m undecided quite how well Guardians stacks up against their other work. Right now I’d rank it as my 2nd favourite just behind the earth-shattering Constellations album.

Top track? Probably Bones, I love the song structure and progression and the lead guitar work is exceptional!

Stay indoors, save lives, and listen to August Burns Red here!

Order the various album packages here.

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