August Burns Red - Guardian Sessions | EP Review

No matter how much our beloved bands and artists sweat and bleed for us, churn out track after track for us, or tour day in day out for us, it will never be enough to satiate the greed and gluttony that plagues the society and culture that has us surrounded. The Lancaster-based and Grammy-nominated quintet August Burns Red however, have a temporary solution that should quench our ever-growing thirsts, if only for another few months.

In the form of the Guardians Sessions EP the band share previously unreleased tracks, like throwing a dog a bone to keep it distracted from tearing at your exposed jugular. Weaving signature sounding August Burns Red material with a sprinkling of candied hearts as a treat to sweeten the deal, the 6-track EP is conspicuously split down the middle.

The muted sway of drums is disturbed by the unclogging of the drain as guitars sweep into ‘Standing in the Storm’, their force rendering the sound crisp and crystal clear. Gritty metalcore vocals from Jake Luhrs takes full advantage of the unblocked audio, as JB Brubaker's alternative metal guitar melodies are repressed beneath the weight of Matt Greiner’s prancing double kick drums and fills against the profound lyrics of: “Nobody wins when we’ve lost one another.” Respite is precious, proven by a guitar arpeggio that encourages a cleaner and emotive vocal middle-8.

A battering ram of drums and bass rattles the vision and diminishes the ability to concentrate on the more harmonic meandering guitars from Brent Rambler that offers some calm in the encroaching chaos of ‘Icarus.' As the first single off the release, ‘Icarus’s’ chorus hook is enveloped with snappy and memorable clean vocals thanks to guest cameo and bassist, Dustin Davidson.

A cover of ambition presents itself in the form of System of a Down’s ‘Chop Suey,’ the opening riff immediately recognisable. As the song continue’s though, it’s clear through the grainy lens of distorted guitars and tapping melodies that this is a meticulous tribute with heavy sprinklings of signature sounds rather than an half-assed cover of the same old original concept. Elusive piano notes pierce the ether with the minute subtly of a pin dropping at the same time as a rocket launches into the stratosphere. The track still does the job of eliciting a deep breath inwards, ready to expel a rapid roar of “angels deserve to DIIIIIIIIE.”

Taking a sharp turn, sci-fi western fans may rejoice at the knowledge of Westworld’s theme song being included on the EP, the American dystopian television series offering an alternative sound and atmosphere for August Burns Red to play around with in the form of cowboy western melodies and riffs. Conjuring images of trekking across the steep chasms of the Grand Canyon on ye olde trusty steed, trotting riffs morph into galloping strums across the great desert plains as the urgency spirals up a tornado of destruction.

Flamenco dashed guitars create a sense of uneasiness against the landscape of ‘Paramount (Reprise),’ the 2020 Guardians track exhibiting undertones of castanet’s that teleport not only your surroundings and location, but the genre as well, catapulted further by bongos and string sections. Arabian auras penetrate ‘Extinct by Instinct (Reprise)’ with sweet and succulent melodies, the ingestion of which cause blurry mirages situated against imagined oasis’.

Guardians Sessions showcases two differing sides of August Burns Red that both displays the grit needed to endure long and treacherous journeys, and to mourn fallen comrades along the way.

Score: 6/10

Guardians Sessions is released April 16th via Fearless Records.

Pre-order the EP here.