Album Review: August Burns Red – Guardians
Even with metalcore in its current era of hyper-innovative flux – every band and their dog experimenting with synths, samples and strange new sounds in a race to the genre’s next evolutionary step – there’s still something to be said for good old meat-and-potatoes melodic munch. 17 years in, Pennsylvania bruisers August Burns Red remain some of its highest-quality purveyors.
Opening with the buzzsaw whirl of The Narrative, the Lancaster quintet continue dead-ahead on eighth full-length Guardians. An explosion of airtight technicality gouged with deceptively infectious grooves, it picks up where 2017’s excellent Phantom Anthem left off but continues to pull on threads that stretch all the way back on 2005’s Thrill Seeker. From the skull-stomping brutality of Defender through the high drama of Empty Heaven, every moment maintains a pulse-pounding high.
Of course, this is an outfit who’ve always placed stock in the message behind the mayhem. The Amish-inspired Christian themes of their earlier releases have transmogrified somewhat nowadays, pressing a simpler humanist understanding that we need to be there for each other in our darkest hours, but they’re no less impassioned. ‘We made a deal with the devil, disguised as help,’ they roar amongst the swooping six-string pyrotechnics of lead-single Bones. ‘We made a deal with the devil, should’ve trusted ourselves.’
In the current climate, even more so than before, that feels like a message worth holding onto.
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“I feel the same way most people do in that I have to disagree,” Dave Grohl says of the Nevemind album cover lawsuit.