The ninth album from August Burns Red comes at a time of much-needed strength. They are not here to reinvent the genre or themselves but if you are a longtime fan or just discovering the Pennsylvania natives, Guardians (Fearless) will be one of your favorites of the year.
Frontman Jake Luhrs breaks free from his usual growls and conveys the best vocals he has ever. He delivers immensely in opener ‘The Narrative’ and parallels guitarists JB Brubaker and Brent Rambler dynamic chemistry. Their sporadic clean riffs mix in nicely. Luhrs impressive vocal range is just the beginning of why this album is the best one yet.
The catchy riffs and percussion that holds much of the strength in ‘Paramount’ resembles ‘Back Burner’ from the beloved Messengers. Matt Greiner’s drum work throughout the album is superb—his technical training on ‘Dismembered Memory’ is a wonderful progression found throughout. There is a taste of it on the single ‘Defender’ where Greiner’s drumming is sonically stunning. Old fans will find a favorite in ‘Bloodletter’ with its extreme breakdowns and chugs. Luhrs delivers his notable roars with a theme of greediness. It is a reminder to fans of why this band is a master of their art.
The album might surprise some as it displays rare, clean vocals. Moreover, it is not as if Luhrs has abandoned his stylistic growls completely but has added a pristine twist to melodies. The soaring chorus in ‘Bones’ works with the pacing o the album as ‘Lighthouse’ provides the most melody that will become a classic for the band. ‘Ties That Bind’ is also an instant classic with breakdowns that balance out the groove in the rhythmic guitars. In all the heaviness that the album encompasses, the melody and softer tones balance out the album keenly.
Guardians hones a common trend: heaviness. It is heavy in all levels song after song. This record has something new for the ones who are being introduced to ABR for the first time and a breath of fresh air for the ones who have been there since day one. The album reinforces that ABR is one of the best metalcore acts in the scene.
8 / 10