August Burns Red - Guardians review



Reviewer:
5.5

55 users:
7.69
Band: August Burns Red
Album: Guardians
Release date: April 2020


01. The Narrative
02. Bones
03. Paramount
04. Defender
05. Lighthouse
06. Dismembered Memory
07. Ties That Bind
08. Bloodletter
09. Extinct By Instinct
10. Empty Heaven
11. Three Fountains


In an era of readily digestible music at the click of a button, it takes special ingredients to stand out from the horde. Others, however, continue to rest on their laurels.

Having become somewhat of a marquee name in the metalcore scene over the past decade-plus, August Burns Red are a well-lubricated machine of consistency, establishing themselves as one of the prime purveyors of Christian metal in a way that's more theological rather than preachy. This is largely what helped separate them from the otherwise blunt and overt pontificating of those in The Holy Alliance, but lyrical content alone can only take a band so far.

Honing their craft across a discography featuring primarily the same lineup, with their last member changes occurring in 2006, Guardians also continues with a production staff that have been making their presence felt since 2013's Rescue & Restore, after which a noticeable shift took place, marking a signature style they've held on to steadfastly ever since. While retaining their penchant for melody and odd time signatures, garnering them appreciative nods from those in prog circles, they've also become far more calculated in their delivery, mitigating their organic flow in the process. Consequently, the music therein has delved into soulless territory, something that will undoubtedly still capture the eyes and ears of anyone actively seeking out technicality for the sake of it, but for ears more attuned to catchy hooks, interesting leads, and appropriately developed breakdowns that fit the natural feel of the overall sound, this album (and the few that precede it) simply won't satisfy.

In no way is it fair to say anything critical of the musicianship on display here, as the prowess and mastery is blatant from the outset, but the shape in which it takes is entirely subservient to only one portion of the fandom, seemingly intent on highlighting that singular aspect of the band's widespread repertoire. With their obvious talent and potential for dynamic songwriting, as has been showcased in the band's earlier career, perhaps what's most needed now is a shakeup. Veering away from the progressive paint-by-numbers focus and utilizing a less polished production would go a long way in asserting August Burns Red as a more rounded, relatable outfit -- one that captures and entices due to its technical proficiency as much as its tempered accessibility.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 10
Songwriting: 4
Originality: 5
Production: 6


 



Written on 19.07.2020 by Just another opinionated guy telling you what to listen to.


Comments

Comments: 5   Visited by: 92 users
20.07.2020 - 17:45
musclassia
Wouldn't be as down on it as you, but I did find Phantom Anthem relatively impressive and thought this was somewhat underwhelming in comparison
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21.07.2020 - 08:36
Coconut Racecar
Gotta agree with much of what you've said. Honestly, I mostly lost interest in them after Leveler. I also liked Found In Far Away Places, but I haven't cared much for anything they've done since. I was pretty disappointed with Rescure & Restore, I... Literally forgot about Phantom Anthem.. And I didn't have any strong feelings about Guardians.

They're definitely becoming one of those "production line" bands where everything sounds so polished and uninspired that it's like they're just cranking stuff out for the money now. Or, to be less harsh, have lost inspiration but still have the drive.
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22.07.2020 - 06:23
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist
Written by musclassia on 20.07.2020 at 17:45

Wouldn't be as down on it as you, but I did find Phantom Anthem relatively impressive and thought this was somewhat underwhelming in comparison

Underwhelming is definitely what I felt after my second listen. Initially I was going to score it a full point higher but the second time around made me realize just how much I felt unmoved by it. Not offensively bad enough to score below a 4 and technically proficient enough to keep it above a 5, but that's as generous as I could be with this.
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I have no memory of this place.
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22.07.2020 - 06:26
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist
Written by Coconut Racecar on 21.07.2020 at 08:36

They're definitely becoming one of those "production line" bands where everything sounds so polished and uninspired that it's like they're just cranking stuff out for the money now. Or, to be less harsh, have lost inspiration but still have the drive.

Exactly my thoughts. It's like they've either been told or have been telling themselves, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And as they continue to do the same thing, the production staff keep fine-tuning it to fit that mass appeal sound. It comes across as disingenuous even if they're all wholeheartedly enthusiastic about it.
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I have no memory of this place.
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22.07.2020 - 21:39
Alex F
Slick Dick Rick
I was actually quite fond of Phantom Anthem and FiFAP, but I gotta agree on this one. The "calculated" vs "organic" thing you mention is very on point. I really felt like this album came about in a "oh it's been a few years we should put out a new album" rather than any spark of creativity. There are still some nifty guitar riffs here and there, and like you said they're clearly talented musicians, but after two plays I can't say a single song has stuck with me as stand out the way something like Carbon Copy did on their previous album.
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get that bag
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