August Burns Red “Guardian Sessions” Review

August Burns Red
Gaudian Sessions
Fearless Records
Released: April 16, 2021

This bloody pandemic, when all is done and dusted, is going to be the route cause of a whole slew of records – including Gaudian Sessions, the newest from August Burns Red.

I suppose it could be looked at like a sort of triumph of the will, a Pyrrhic victory of sorts. Still being able to find ways to record material while obeying the new world order of staying away from friends, family – and strangers alike. Masked up with overly sanitized hands – reeking of purell. Hoarded toilet paper in every nook and cranny. Here, the six tracks that form Guardian Sessions, comprised of B-sides, covers, and reimagined tracks, that were recorded with band members each in separate rooms. Odd. Yet the new norm.

There are two songs here, the opening tracks of the recording, that were culled from 2020’s Guardians album. The two tracks, Standing in the Storm and Icarus, were cut due to the band not wanting to have an overly long record on their hands – and because they didn’t fit so well with the rest of the songs. These tracks were both recorded during the sessions that produced Guardians, giving them a similar feel and vibe. Given the hardships and down-time August Burns Red and the rest of the music world has faced during these Covid-times, the band found they had time to explore a little. To play, and create tracks they wouldn’t normally consider fit for one of their albums.

See Also: Bewitcher “Cursed Be Thy Kingdom” Review

The record starts off with Standing In The Storm, which is a melodic slab, ripe with all the elements that made Guardians such a solid record. The time signatures, abrasive drum battery and break-downs – all of it.  I imagine this must have been a hard choice to cut from that record, and an easy pick as lead-off for this release. Meanwhile, it isn’t a stretch to imagine why Icarus didn’t make the cut. Although it is a solid track, it doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the vibe portrayed on Guardians. It sounds more akin to something you’d find on an While She Sleeps record than on an August Burns Red album. Highly melodic without sacrificing its aggression. My favorite number on this release.

There are two cover tracks among the six on offer – one surprising and the other fairly expected. The first being a rendition of the Westworld television show theme, which is a fun and novel idea, while the later is a cover of a song that is renowned amongst an entire generation of heavy music lovers – System Of A Down’s smash hit, Chop Suey. This track alone makes this recording a worthwhile addition to any heavy music collection. This is a much heavier version than the original, yet still follows fairly closely to that of System Of A Down. It gives August Burns Red singer, Jake Luhrs, a chance to put his vocal range on display, and excels in the process.

The final two cuts on Guardian Sessions, are what the band calls reprise tracks – swanky instrumental and acoustic tracks that have a splendid prog rock feeling about them. Trading in their notorious break-downs and heavy romps for soothing, almost elevator music versions. All sorts of intricacies and small details make these two tracks quite interesting – thought provoking. Not what anyone might expect from a group such as August Burns Red, thus the pandemic once more brings with it a bouquet of surprises. Very atmospheric and different.

A variety of versions can be had from the following link – including several vinyl options, a Compact Disc and digital option as well.

For Fans Of: While She Sleeps, As I Lay Dying, System Of A Down
Track Listing:

01. Standing In The Storm
02. Icarus
03. Chop Suey
04. Westworld
05. Paramount (Reprise)
06. Extinct By Instinct