Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Barn Burner Doubles Up On Bangers II

Barn BurnerIt feels like Montreal-based (Bongtreal, they say) heavy rock/metal band Barn Burner released their debut album Bangers a few months ago, but it was really released in February of last year (earlier if you don't count the Metal Blade rerelease). Even so, some people seem surprised that the band was ready with another album quick on the heels of the first.

There's no surprise here with the release date. There is a surprise with the sound. There is no question that Barn Burner has Metal Blade proud with the follow up.

While the Bangers debut was a fine throwback metal album often described as stoner rock with all its obvious influences, the new album, Bangers II: Scum Of The Earth, passes out plenty of nods to the past but with an unexpected fierceness and freshness. They may as well be a new band. Everything about it is better, bumping them from average to a band worth watching.

Bangers II: Scum Of The Earth stands up where Bangers laid down.

Don't let the worst album title in the world fool you. The new album is heavier, with a whole more more guitar, bass, and innate contemptuousness. But more than that, the new album stands out in the genre for its renewed technical skill, tenacity, and intensity.

Sure, anybody who has savored heavy rock and metal will be able to pick up some familiar riffs. However, the entire project is more progressive than anyone expected, with a touch a punk that makes it more modern.

Hat tip to producer Adrian Popovich too. I'm starting to appreciate his fingerprints on albums coming out of Canada. This one especially.

If Half Past Haggard from the first album sounds about right, then Bangers II will give you something to look forward to. The best tracks on Bangers II are Dark Side Of The Barn, Brother Fear, and Gate Keeper. Crushing Defeat and Ghost Jam also have a down tempo groove compared to the rest of the album.

A little riff of history about Barn Burner.

The band originally formed in late 2007, but it took some time to get off the ground in a city Kevin Keegan (guitar/vocals) once said wasn't friendly to their type of music. Then the band had a major setback when their first label pulled the plug on the album and then a second label, New Romance For Kids, pretty much did the same.

When almost everything seemed like they would have to start over, Keegan decided to send a promo kit to Metal Blade, never expecting they would be signed. They were signed, which was immediately followed with a rerelease of Bangers and a tour schedule for Keegan and crew: Cameron Noakes (guitar), Nick Ball (bass), and Taylor Freund (drums).

In some ways, Keegan is right. Barn Burner really wasn't hard enough for Metal Blade to keep them with a prayer. But Bangers II is a different. Barn Burner clearly bumped up their game while remaining an underdog of sorts — underdog in progressive corners in that Keegan isn't a screamer nor is he someone from whom to expect a death growl. Instead, you get some clean, refreshed vintage metal, some chunky power chords, and now some Keegan sneers that fit just right.

Bangers II By Barn Burner Rattles The Ladder At 5.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Not everyone sees the evolution of the band as enough to break free from other 1970s head banging wannabes. I disagree because it's the pace of some tracks that sets Barn Burner on a different path. This tour-savvy, hardworking band has obviously put their earlier laziness aside and is ready to earn more than comparisons to their influences.

Bangers II: Scum Of The Earth can be downloaded from iTunes. You can also find Bangers II on Amazon and the CD at Barnes & Noble. They have a mini-tour up the West Coast already kicked off for the album release. And then the band will return to its roots, taking their new sound back to Canada.
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