Sound Barrier

Speed of Light

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When bassist Stanley E. left Sound Barrier in 1986, there was speculation that the band would look for someone black to replace him and continue to have an all-black lineup. After all, being an all-black heavy metal band certainly made Sound Barrier unusual. But ultimately, Sound Barrier chose Emil Lech, a Romanian immigrant who had been with the L.A.-based band Teriff. That interracial lineup -- three African-Americans and a Romanian immigrant -- is heard on 1986's excellent Speed of Light, which was Sound Barrier's first release since the 1984 EP Born to Rock and its first full-length album since 1982's Total Control. Favoring a fantasy metal approach a la Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, Sound Barrier sounds quite inspired on "Gladiator," "What Price Glory?," and other songs that are as forceful as they are melodic. One of the most interesting things on the album is a remake of Thin Lizzy's "Hollywood (Down on Your Luck)," which works surprisingly well in a heavy metal setting. Regrettably, Speed of Light turned out to be Sound Barrier's last album, and the foursome broke up without ever receiving the commercial success it deserved.

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