Barn Burner - Bangers (Metal Blade/Riot)

Mixing up genres and eras like it's going out of fashion, Barn Burner's debut manages to create a sound that's retro but all their own.

On the first spin, I thought “this is retro, guitar-worshipping rock and roll, pure and simple”.

Then I watched a video of the four-piece, and they look like a punk garage band from the grunge era, complete with flannel shirts, facial hair and what looks like permanently unwashed hair. But damn, they can play those guitars.

Next I made the mistake of reading a couple of other reviews, which variously claimed they heard influences ranging from punk and hardcore to grunge, garage rock, doom, stoner metal, progressive metal and thrash. By this point I was thoroughly confused. Just who are these spunky Canadians and what the fuck are they trying to do?

Giving it another listen, I went back to my original estimation: this is guitar music. Too energetic to be stoner metal, too light and fast to be doom, but too laid back to be thrash and too rockin’ to be progressive. Barn Burner defies classification.

Kicking off in high gear with Holy Smokes, the first half of this album doesn’t let up or slow down - you won’t want it to.  It’s not particularly heavy and I found myself wanting to turn the bass up a bit, but the central riffs are brilliantly conceived and executed and everything else seems to just fall in place around them. Fast Women has a great Fu Manchu vibe and Long Arm of the Law – my favourite track – has a real punk feel.

The second half of the album relaxes the frantic pace a little. Brohemoth is long, epic and Black Sabbath-esque, and is perhaps the band’s attempt to be more serious, with weighty apocalyptic lyrics like ‘everything’s burning, this is the end of time’. Wizard Island recalls ‘70s stadium rock. Tremors brings back the punk again before the odd album closer, Old Habits, a mid-paced instrumental that cuts off abruptly after a minute and a half and had me checking that my press download hadn’t been corrupted.   

Barn Burner manage to meld a wide variety of influences without really sounding like any of them. If you like riffs (and who doesn’t?) put Bangers on, turn it up loud, and get the air guitar going. You won’t regret it.

Barn Burner's Bangers is out now on Metal Blade/Riot.