Sound Barrier

Born to Rock

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Can Sound Barrier's lack of commercial success be attributed to racism? Perhaps to a degree. It's quite possible that some rock programmers saw the band's picture and automatically assumed it was an R&B group, and it's also possible that some A&R people didn't sign Sound Barrier because they believed that white rock fans wouldn't accept black artists. However, white rock fans did accept Living Colour, Lenny Kravitz, Tracy Chapman and Joan Armatrading, not to mention Prince and his Minneapolis colleagues. So while Sound Barrier probably was affected by racism in some cases, the band was most likely victimized by inadequate promotion and poor marketing more than anything. If Sound Barrier had been promoted as aggressively as Living Colour or Kravitz, the foursome might have broken through commercially. At any rate, Sound Barrier was a solid metal band, and the headbangers are in fine form on Born to Rock. From an inspired remake of Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild" to blistering originals like "Raging Heart," "Conquer the World," and "Do or Die," this EP paints an attractive picture of Sound Barrier. As blistering and forceful as the L.A. residents could be, the EP underscores their love of melody and nuance. In interviews, lead vocalist Bernie K. stressed that Sound Barrier considered Rush a major influence and loved that band's musicality, and while this EP is much closer to Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Grim Reaper than Rush, you can see Bernie's point. Regrettably, Born to Rock has been out of print since the mid-'80s and is unlikely to be reissued on CD.