GUARDIAN – Almost Home (2014)
One of the strongest influences in modern Christian metal history is that of powerhouse GUARDIAN. Albums like First Watch or Fire and Love are considered by many not only as some the greatest Christian metal records ever released, but in US Hard Rock history in general.
After a long and successful career, Guardian went on hiatus in the early 2000’s, leaving many fans wanting more and wondering if the band would ever return.
Fast-forward to 2014 and, not only are Guardian back, but they’re back at full force, led by longtime frontman Jamie Rowe and the rest of the classic 90’s-2000’s lineup fully intact.
Their return record released today, “Almost Home“, sees the band in top form still keeping true to the beloved Guardian sound.
Kicking it off with “Boom She Says,” the record opens with a catchy bluegrass intro that blasts into an explosive hard rocking track that shows the band still has it, and Rowe’s singing is still that raspy rock voice that gives you chills just listening.
Next up we have the lead single “The Real Me” that has a hard bluesy feel to it, a feel that carries on throughout most of the record. “The Real Me” is a perfect choice for the lead single. So many times we see bands choose a first single that doesn’t show us what the album will even remotely sound like.
With this song Guardian shows us what we can expect from the majority of the record and its clear Guardian are back with a vengeance.
“Show Me What You Got,” a blistering interlude, shows one of the most powerful, scorching and mind-destroying guitar solos and riffs we’ve seen from Guardian and blows the doors off everything we’ve heard so far and sets the tone for the rest of the record, which features some impressive, inspiring and heavy-hitting ballads and some of the hardest material.
It’s in the straight-ahead hardrocker, “King of Fools,” that the quintet really and truly hit their collective stride. Sounding as if it could have been composed during the sessions for the superlative 1995 Buzz record, the energizing cut has a tighter melody, more impressive guitar pyrotechnics and a higher swagger quotient than the sum total of all six of the compositions that preceded it.
Along those same lines, “Paranoia Kills” sees “Fools” and ups the ante; tossing in an even grittier rhythm and a welcome dose of the band’s trademark bluesy riffs.
Then we have a catchy, melodic infectiously buoyant entries like “Price We Pay” and “Free”, which are the sort of stick-in-your-head ditties most listeners could probably hear once and sing, note-perfectly, from memory two weeks later. Even more remarkable, though, is the slightly-countrified, acoustic-based title track, whose high-lonesome harmonies, gorgeous arpeggiatic fret work and poignant lap steel embellishments (the latter courtesy of Phil Madiera) render it nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Guardian have recorded a more than solid comeback album that leans heavily on their ’80s / 90s roots, adding a touch of modernity especially in the crisp but potent production.
Fans of the US hard rock sound & style from the era will be thrilled upon listening “Almost Home”, a record that set the stage for Guardian and put them on the map again.
And with a striking force I’d say.
01. Boom She Said
02. The Real Me
03. Little Things
05. California Rain
06. Show Us What You Got (Interlude)
07. King of Fools (4:03)
08. The Calling (Interlude)
09. Paranoia Kills
10. Price We Pay
12. Requiem Calavera (Interlude)
13. Almost Home
Jamie Rowe – Vocals
Tony Palacios – Guitar
David Bach – Bass
Karl Ney – Drums
Jamey Perrenot – Guitar
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