In 1995, acclaimed metal quartet Guardian knew it was time for a change. The guys teamed with the creative genius of producer Steve Taylor to reinvent their sound. The band had just come out of a frustrating experience with their side project Swing Swang Swung, a unique acoustic/folk record that ended up confusing, shocking, and virtually terrifying a lot of their fans. Although that album had produced some memorable offerings, fans misunderstood the release as a new direction for the band. Buzz was poised to set the record straight.
Opening the record with a commanding guitar riff, "This Old Man" used familiar imagery to paint a picture of dying to our flesh to arise a new creation in Christ. Bearing a significantly less typically heavy metal sound, the new modern rock approach was a beautiful fit, even leaving plenty of room for guitarist Tony Palacios's signature solos to remain. "Lead The Way" was easy rock radio single material while the album shifted drastically (but not inappropriately) to the subject matter of depression for "State Of Mine." "The Lion's Den" followed, a catchy anthem on faith, and was succeeded by the sensitive "Are You Gonna Keep Your Word," a song about remaining faithful in marriage. The deliciously dark sounds of "One Thing Left To Do" complimented the slow and eerie "Hand of the Father," a song written from the eyes of a soldier in the Civil War who's lying on a battlefield dying and being beckoned toward heaven.
"Psychedelic Runaway" pulls an about-face, a more upbeat rocker that blends a 60's element into the band's new modern rock explorations, complete with flawless harmonies. "Even It Out" boasts a thick bass line before breaking into the light rock sounds of the worshipful and prayerful "Lift Me Up." The album isn't without its weaker moments unfortunately, as it comes to a slightly unremarkable and disappointing finish with the slightly cheesy "Shorty," the pretty ballad "Lullaby," and the brief and sorely misplaced southern rocker "Them Nails." If the album had been shaved down to 11 tracks (sans "Shorty" and "Them Nails") with "Lullaby" as the closer, it would have been a near-perfect rock record.
As it stands, Buzz was a brilliant new direction for Guardian. Although it wasn't received as well as it should have been since it's always difficult for bands' fans to accept their attempts to change with the times, Buzz was possibly the strongest moment in Guardian's catalog of music. And with the promise they displayed on Buzz, and developed further with Bottle Rocket, it's a shame they quit doing music together a few years later. Despite being released almost eleven years ago now, Buzz remains a solid rock record that still sounds good today.- Review date: 3/13/06, written by John DiBiase
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