Gun Barrel

Brace for Impact

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While they've often been too easily lumped into the love/hate polarizing genre known as power metal, Germany's Gun Barrel are, for all intents and purposes, a straight-up heavy metal band, verging at times on good old-fashioned hard rock. Listened to without preconceived prejudices, the band's fifth full-length, Brace for Impact, leaves absolutely no room for misinterpreting this conclusion, thanks to a slew of unambiguously pure sonic hallmarks that trace its DNA directly to the long and laudable Teutonic heavy metal tradition...the Scorpions, Sinner, errr, Mad Max, etc. In fact, and more specifically, Gun Barrel's musical approach derives almost entirely from the 1980s' heavy rock aesthetic; and what's so wrong with that, so long as the commercially distorting hair spray, lipstick, and mascara are all left safely in the girlfriend's makeup kit where they belong? Additional, non-Germanic influences such as AC/DC, UFO, Def Leppard, and Saxon also fuel Gun Barrel's trademark recipe for Spartanly anthemic tunes ("Start a Riot," "Stand Your Ground," etc.), all of which speak of simpler days when knocking back a few beers on a Friday night trumped exploring deep existential issues of the soul (unless that's what "Dancing on Torpedoes" is speaking in tongues about here). Listeners looking for a slightly brasher stripe of song -- you know, the kind boasting a little more meat on the ol' compositional bone -- should get some satisfaction from the vigorous title cut and rollicking "Might and Main"; and while they ultimately lack the bona fide thrash frenzy to cross into the power metal terrain, "Books of Life," "Diamond Bullets," and "The Wild Hunt" all thrive on copious speed and energy. None of which will set the world afire with invention, mind you, but as comfortingly familiar musical fare goes, Brace for Impact will find more than enough nostalgic metalheads eager to embrace its modest charms.

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