Guardian: Almost Home review

One of the strongest influences in modern Christian metal history is that of powerhouse Guardian. Albums like First Watch, Fire and Love, Miracle Mile and Bottle Rocket are considered by many as some the greatest Christian metal records ever released. Then there was the band’s re-record of Stryper’s The Yellow and Black Attack that did what few covers do- it did the original justice. 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. They had a few one-off reunion shows here and there but it was never a full-fledged Guardian 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, Almost Home, sees the band exploring different musical avenues while still keeping true to the beloved Guardian sound and was funded completely by Kickstarter with crowd donations. Many artists- Pillar, John Schlitt, John Elefante, Carman, Psychostick, etc. are using site like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to fund their records- not because they can’t afford it, but because in today’s music world, record sales are down. The best way to ensure record sales is to give fans a way to get involved and be a part of the record process. In return for their donations and funding, the band offers rewards aAnd whatnot to those who donated and helped out- everything from getting the album early to autographs and more are typical rewards with Kickstarter projects. Kicking it off with “Boom She Says,” the record opens with a catchy country/almost-bluegrass intro that blasts into an explosive rock track that shows the band still has it and Rowe’s voice 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 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 “The Real Me,” 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 intro, shows one of the most powerful, blistering 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 on the record. With Almost Home, Guardian shows some blues, some rock, some metal and some southern rock tracks and vastly expand upon their sound to produce one of the most eclectic records we’ve seen from the Christian metal juggernauts. Fans sometimes make the same mistake with Guardian that they do with bands like Bride with Snakes in the Playground and that is expecting everything they put out to sound like Fire and Love. While that record set the stage for Guardian and put them on another level, it’s unfair to count out everything that doesn’t resemble that album. Almost Home, while not completely like everything else Guardian have released in the past, shows their true musicianship and what they can really do. Regardless whether you liked Fire and Love, Miracle Mile, First Watch, Swing Swang Swung, Bottle Rocket or their Spanish releases; whether or not you liked “Power of Love” compared to “The Preacher and the Bear,” Almost Home has something for fans of every Guardian era and every Guardian musical style. If you’re a true Guardian fan, you’re gonna love the band’s return record. Rating: 9/10 -Reggie Edwards