August Burns Red have been on a roll over the past few years with two Grammy nominations, sold out tours the world over and albums which have been loved by both critics and fans alike. After completing a 10th Anniversary tour of Constellations, the band are now back with one of their heaviest records yet, their ninth studio album entitled Guardians.
Right from the first few seconds of album opener “The Narrative”, it is clear that the band mean business. Of particular note, the harsh vocals of Jake Luhrs sound especially visceral and focus more on his lower range which fits the harsher overall vibe perfectly. “Bones” follows on from this and showcases the excellent drumming from Matt Greiner and excellent bass tone from Dustin Davidson. Both of these slot together perfectly alongside the other instruments to create one of the best tracks on the album.
“Defender” and “Dismembered Memory” are another two tracks in particular which standout on the album. The former for its amazing music video that accompanied its release a few weeks ago, and the latter for its dissonant harmonies over the breakdown-style riffs which are heavy enough to shatter the skies above. Following track “Ties That Bind” takes a slightly more melodic tonality whilst still retaining the heaviness of the former track. Again, the vocals of Jake sound particularly excellent on this track with his higher-pitched harsh vocals sitting alongside the lower-pitched ones perfectly.
One track which cannot go without mention, is “Bloodletter”. It is highly possible that this is one of, if not, the heaviest track the band has written. The track does not let up for its entire length and will no doubt cause chaos in the moshpits should it ever be played live. Woe betide anyone who get’s caught in the middle of a pit when this track plays.
Rounding out the album, “Empty Heaven” and “Three Fountains” each bring their unique flavour of the bands signature sound. The former opts for an approach similar to “Empire” from Leveler with breakdown-style riffs in the choruses and harmonies galore which suits it rather perfectly. The latter, and longest track on the album, follows in its footsteps somewhat, but elevates things to a whole other level with a wide range of dynamics being displayed. It can considered somewhat similar to “Meridian” from Constellations in terms of its use of dynamics and timbre to create a track worthy of ending the album.
Over the years, August Burns Red have been putting out albums which consistently get better every time. The same can be said with Guardians in that it is a true step up over Phantom Anthem. It takes everything that the band does perfectly and cranks it up to twelve whilst injecting some superb mixing and insane musicianship. It is, without question, their best record yet.
Guardians is available now via Fearless Records.