There are a bunch of memes floating around the internet about how metalcore refuses to evolve as a genre. That’s not entirely fair. Avenged Sevenfold and Bring me the Horizon, for example, evolved right out of metalcore and into something that metal fans hated even more. On Guardians, August Burns Red haven’t exactly evolved. There’s still a ton of breakdowns, high-low screams, and lyrics that will keep your face firmly embedded in your palm. But they also sound a lot more like Soilwork than they used to, for whatever that’s worth.
Look, I’m aware that metalcore is, at its heart, an imperfect fusion of ‘90s hardcore and the melodic death metal of the same era. August Burns Red may have been late to the metalcore party when they debuted in 2005, and they’ve always worn that badge a little more honestly than some of their contemporaries. But woah man. There are parts of “Bones” where you could have told me I was listening to some unreleased Soilwork shit and I would have believed you.
Another track that waves the melodeath flag high is “Extinct by Instinct,” and it may be the best track on the entire record. It’s easily the most organic sounding track because for a few shining minutes, they let go of that mechanical style of playing that plagues so many metalcore songs and just let their playing breathe.
The rest of the record is pretty much what you’d expect. They attempt something of a singalong anthem at the beginning of “Lighthouse,” but the song gets better after that. (Also, you KNOW that they high-fived each other when they wrote the line, “there’s so much lost to be found.” Ugh.) And “Bloodletter” is tailor-made for the mosh pit; it’s so heavy I’ve already forgotten it. If you were already a fan of August Burns Red, you’ll probably enjoy this record. If they weren’t your cup of tea, this isn’t likely to change your mind.
Written by Syd Ghan
*Edited by Dominic Abate