August Burns Red
Guardians


1.5
very poor

Review

by Robert Garland CONTRIBUTOR (338 Reviews)
April 4th, 2020 | 371 replies


Release Date: 04/03/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Gatekeepers to the nonexclusive.

I’ll say this about August Burns Red - they’re one of the most consistent acts to have ever graced the Pennsylvanian metalcore scene. Take a look at the band’s artwork for example; with the exception of the group’s 2004 and self-titled EP’s, both the band’s moniker and the respective release name have always been pushed to the top left of the art. To add to my thoughts, despite the staggering fall in grace of some (read: most) of early 2000s metalcore standards across the genre, August Burns Red have more or less maintained a modicum of commercially viable, if not especially exciting music. My point? Consistency, not excellence. These Pennsylvanian metalcore enthusiasts may have stayed largely the same in regards to their lineup and style of the course of the last two decades - but Guardians largely milks every generic nuance out of the metalcore genre without [ever] achieving even the same middling standards as Found In Far Away Places, Rescue & Restore or Phantom Anthem.

August Burns Red’s Guardians however bucks the trend of releasing inoffensive, passable metalcore that’s found in much of their earlier releases. Instead, the band’s eighth studio effort milks a sour note out of a washed, generic soundscape that offers nothing to metalcore as a whole and, more importantly, lessens the August Burns Red brand. It seems (if you allow me to spend a second quoting fellow contributing reviewer (and all-round great guy, Johnny[OfTheWell]) “August ain't gonna burn itself... Am I right?”) that Guardians is in fact a burning record; built on a foundation of collective musical hemorrhoids, prolapsing on the type of music most bands are trying to innovate, change, (or otherwise) improve on. The crux of the matter, however, is that August Burn Red’s overly consistent approach to their 2020 piece leads to a less than okay performance disgorged onto the awaiting fanbase. Whether it’s the predictably bland opener, “The Narrative", or the supposed banger a la “Defender”, August Burns Red’s Guardians formula is weakened by the band’s usual lack of innovation, made worse by the record’s complete lack of punch.

Guardians itself isn’t offensively bad in its design - but it is more offensive within its own mediocrity. For most of the album, the bass is often non-existent, compressed into nothingness behind lack-lustre melodies and less than imaginative lyrical motifs which meander from one tired confidence building endorsement to the next. Heavy hitting tracks like “Bloodletter” fail to create an impact as the album’s terse production undermines the song’s need to combine breakdowns with potency. Much of the same detriment can be attributed to that of Jake’s vocals, especially in regards to the lower harsh screams that dominate the verses. The only silver-lining here (if you could call it as such) is that the higher screams are not impacted, one way or the other in the face of the album’s clinically flat mastering. “Empty Heaven” takes on a particular Architects influence to its vocal performance and despite Jake’s well-executed lines, the track itself fails to rise above the rest of the issues that command the group’s eighth full-length. But it’s hard to lump all of Guardians’ problems into the “production issues” basket.

Unfortunately, there’s a combination of issues castrating what could have been a career defining release. At fifty minutes, Guardians is too long as most of the songs here bleed too well into the next, rehashing too similar ideas and lyrical content. Add to that the group’s natural gravitation to fill out ideas with overbearing legato or breakdown flurries without significant variation and we have another easily forgettable metalcore experience.

While Guardians’ redeeming values are few and far between, I feel I would be doing the album some disservice to not mention the record closer, “Three Fountains”. Despite some cringe worthy faux cleans from Jake, the track itself emits tones of hope and intertwined melancholia, wrapping August Burns Red’s newest music into a bundle of sorts. Again, “Three Fountains” is hamstrung by a mixing that doesn’t lift the contrast of heavy riffs to the lighter, more melodic notes - but hints at the potential this album would have had with a few major adjustments. Overall, Guardians is disappointing - not because the expectations were placed out of reach, but because it failed to reach them at all. Guardians had all the potential to achieve the quality of the band’s previous records, and even a slight chance at surpassing them. Alas, the group’s penchant for a non-exclusive sound doesn’t stand as resolute as their eighth album’s namesake.



Recent reviews by this author
Caligula's Horse Rise RadiantWinterfylleth The Reckoning Dawn
Allelic À Contre VentTrivium What The Dead Men Say
Ovid's Withering TerraphageMaddie and Tae The Way It Feels
user ratings (229)
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
HouseOfSilver (3.5)
It rocks....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
April 4th 2020


12493 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

1.6 in the old metric.

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
April 4th 2020


19628 Comments


And

Here

We

Go.

Digging: Cressida - Cressida

parksungjoon
April 4th 2020


19553 Comments


this is probably the most accurate rating so far

reading in a bit

Digging: Nuclear Death - Bride of Insect

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
April 4th 2020


25696 Comments


Omg I made it into a Nocte rev I have peaked
Will maybe listen to this, like some of these guys' others a bit

Digging: Everything But the Girl - Walking Wounded

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
April 4th 2020


12493 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

peaked

parksungjoon
April 4th 2020


19553 Comments


okay maybe i shouldnt have been having lunch while reading about hemorrhoids and prolapses

Ectier
April 4th 2020


103 Comments


I have never gotten into this band even during my metalcore days. They just feel so boring to me. Great review though Nocte

parksungjoon
April 4th 2020


19553 Comments


excellent writeup as expected

also somewhat cathartic to see a contrib dunk on a lame band

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
April 4th 2020


12493 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

also somewhat cathartic




I do what I can.

parksungjoon
April 4th 2020


19553 Comments


do me

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
April 4th 2020


12493 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

Did you feel it?

Willie
Moderator
April 4th 2020


18709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

These guys have never made an exciting album, but they're consistently good... "Paramount" is pretty damn awesome, though.

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
April 4th 2020


12493 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

Starting to feel like you hand out 3's too easily Trey.

Willie
Moderator
April 4th 2020


18709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Ha ha. For the genres I listen to, most things I hear I can call 'good' or 'average'. There's not much I actually think is 'very poor' or awful. I just enjoy music.

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
April 4th 2020


12493 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

Fair's fair I guess. Not everything is 'good' though.

Willie
Moderator
April 4th 2020


18709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Agreed. Look at my ratings. I have plenty rated under a '3'. Personally, I have to wonder if you're shitting on this as much as you are because it's a high-profile target. The gist of the review seems to be that these guys are predictable, but that this time you don't like it. So, you nit-pick on everything from the placement of their logo to the level of the bass guitar, to the length of the actual album (how short of an album would it have taken for you to be okay with it if you hate it that much?), along with a lot of generalizations without really ever getting into what's actually wrong beyond a lack of innovation.

parksungjoon
April 4th 2020


19553 Comments


i think its fair to say that the less you enjoy something the better it is for it to be short

Willie
Moderator
April 4th 2020


18709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

I agree, so rating this a '1.5' pretty much makes it unnecessary to discuss the length.

ResidentNihilist
April 4th 2020


1478 Comments


guessing this'll piss off thisismywar but fuck it.

good review

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
April 4th 2020


12493 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

--Personally, I have to wonder if you're shitting on this as much as you are because it's a high-profile target.--



Interesting take, but no. I go into everything with an open mind - although I wouldn't say that my preferences are unpredictable. Given both my scoring and reviewing criteria over the last few years especially any number of people familiar with those could have seen this coming. I didn't hear the singles before it, so I had no bearing based on pre-release scoring.



--The gist of the review seems to be that these guys are predictable,--



It's a major flaw in their music, especially concerning my opinion. It's not the only issue here however.



--So, you nit-pick on everything from the placement of their logo--



The logo thing here was less of nit-pic on quality and more of a focus on the band's past/current consistency. I thought I detached that enough from my thesis. I'll look at strengthening that if I have to.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy