16 February 2010
by Tom Dare
Canadians Barn Burner have delivered a debut album that does exactly what it says on the tin. What we have here is a collection of banging rock songs. What they want you to believe is that they present an original, unique rock vision. On this front, they fall well short – but don’t be put off, as there’s a good slab of rock to be had here.
Bangers is essentially a stoner rock album performed by musicians of some technical ability – such that you doubt they were under the influence of anything that might slow their fingers down during recording. This results in a sound that has led some commentators to make comparisons with Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden. These are perhaps spurious comparisons, as if you want something that sounds like Barn Burner, you would do better to listen to Queens Of The Stone Age. In particular, there are moments on Bangers that sound a great deal like material from Songs For The Deaf (not ‘No One Knows’, the rest of that album) and this is where the strive for originality falls short – reminding the listener of one of the biggest rock records of the last decade is hardly a radical move.
Further, the Iron Maiden comparison is genuinely misleading. It would be better to say that there are riffs which could been inspired by material from Piece Of Mind and in particular ‘The Trooper’, but don’t expect a stoner version of ‘2 Minutes To Midnight’ or any of Maiden’s other anthems. There are some real Thin Lizzy-esque moments, but basically Barn Burner are a good, technical stoner band.
The immediate response to Bangers is the inevitable foot-tapping that opener ‘Holy Smokes’ inspires. It’s a fun and energetic rock song that immediately grabs the attention and tells you what to expect from the rest of the album. But this is one of the flaws of Bangers; you’ve heard a lot of the tricks by the end of track one. The tricks are largely pretty good, and it must be said that some of the riffs are irresistible in their driving energy, but there’s just not that many of them. The largely inoffensive vocals sometimes lack any real hooks or verve, and their lyrics do seem to be so drawn from the little black book of rock clichés that even after multiple listens are unlikely to be going around your head after you stop listening.
Watch the video to ‘Half Past Haggard’ by Barn Burner
The real problem of Bangers though, is its pacing. When Barn Burner are being energetic, head-bobbing hard rockers they are entertaining. After a few tracks of that, however, your attention will begin to wander. They’ve varied the pace here and there, but it produces mixed results. ‘Beer Today, Bong Tomorrow’ slows things down too much and, at five minutes in length, is really rather dull. ‘Brohemoth’, conversely, is even longer yet far more successful, ranging from the genuinely slow, through a mid-tempo chorus containing easily the best vocal moment on the album, to the lively driving pace that marks Barn Burner’s strongest moments.
Bangers is a good debut effort, and more than worth a few spins. While there are some instantly forgettable songs, there are some tunes that are pretty much guaranteed to get your leg jiggling in time with the beat. Bangers doesn’t carry any instant classics nor will it revolutionise the rock world, but the band clearly have the riffs and the musicianship to make them worth keeping an eye on.
Sounds like: Queens Of The Stone Age, Thin Lizzy, ‘The Trooper’
Top tracks: Holy Smokes, Brohemoth, Tremors
Barn Burner- Bangers tracklisting:
The Long Arm Of The Law
Beer Today, Bong Tomorrow
Half Past Haggard