Album Review: "Guardians Sessions EP" by August Burns Red

To battle quarantine, metalcore OGs August Burns Red have released the Guardians Sessions EP on vinyl via Fearless Records. Like most bands in 2020, ABR were left to their own devices during the worldwide COVID-19 shutdowns. Fortunately for us, they didn’t rest on their laurels. Instead, the Lancaster, PA natives decided to reprise recent tracks “Paramount” and “Extinct by Instinct,” record some covers, and toss in a few unreleased numbers as well to keep us entertained, and them afloat.

Side A openers, “Standing In The Storm” and “Icarus” were originally recorded during the recording of their early 2020 release Guardians, however the tracks didn’t make the final cut. “Icarus” is the stand out track of the two, featuring bassist Dustin Davidson’s clean vocals. (If you recall, we were blown away by a Davidson songwriting/guitar cameo during a 2016 ABR performance. This dude continues to impress!) To round out Side A, the band covers System of a Down’s 2001 hit single, “Chop Suey!” The metalcore interpretation keeps the original SOAD vibes during the chorus while sprinkling in what Jake Luhrs does best during each verse, plus some serious axe tone by JB Brubaker and Brent Rambler throughout.

Side B has us real giddy as it’s the band’s interpretation of the Westworld (TV series) theme. Not only is it fun, but it reminds us of the progressive transitions ABR featured in Found In Far Away Places. The EP ends with the reprise editions of “Paramount” and “Extinct by Instinct.” Let’s be clear, it’s not often fans want to hear a metalcore song renditioned for acoustic. It can really take away the energy, especially if phoned in or played by mediocre performers. But ABR never let us down with these reprises — from the percussive adaptations, to the impressive fret-work and occasional vocal melody transposed to guitar. Of the two, “Paramount” feels like the bigger stand out. Real talk: ABR could easily take their catalog of acoustic-ish jams on tour opening for flamenco metalheads Rodrigo y Gabriela and I would buy tickets in a heartbeat.


As for the quality of vinyl pressing, we were sent the clear edition 7-inch. There was no warping and we heard very little noise/distortion toward the inside of the pressing (pretty rare for metalcore releases). Especially ones selling under $20.

Get your copy at found.ee/gsep-2.