Barn Burner: Bangers II – Scum of the Earth

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Barn Burner: Bangers II – Scum of the Earth
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Barn Burner: Bangers II - Scum of the Earth
Heavy Metal, Stoner Metal
Metal Blade Records
June 7th, 2011
Release length: 41:58
Myspace
Website
After their relatively unsuccessful debut full-length album, Bangers, Canadian act Barn Burner return to the studio once more. The appropriately titled Bangers II: Scum of the Earth finds the Heavy Metal meets Stoner Metal group coming back strong in an effort to prove the naysayers wrong. Released through Metal Blade Records, the follow-up hasn’t really received much attention around the internet, and the group still remains pretty unknown up to this point. But, does this effort have what it takes to start calling Barn Burner an impressive yet unrecognized rising force for this style?

Bangers II: Scum of the Earth ends up sounding pretty clean, which is usually something you wouldn’t want for an album like this. Barn Burner seem to really be trying to capture that old-school Heavy Metal vibe with a Stoner Rock element in the same way that High on Fire manages to, but with Sludge instead. So, having a cleaner sound doesn’t really help out the band here. The guitars here have a bit of a sharper feel to the distortion, though they are largely masked by the deeper bass that comes through a lot louder in comparison. This works considering how sleek the guitars end up sounding, having a hint of a modern mainstream Rock to them. This doesn’t really fit what the band is trying to play, though the drumming works out, as well as the vocals. The cymbols come through pretty clear with snares about the same level that are a bit deeper with a good bass thud to the kicks. As far as the vocals go, they are clean as well, and performed with a higher pitch that can sometimes get a little rhaspy, but that’s about it. Honestly, sometimes it just feels like you’re listening to a recent Mastodon with the way it all sounds together, though not quite as high a production.

The album starts off a pretty heavy and catchy note. “Scum of the Earth” is a faster track and very upbeat, having a stronger Heavy Metal sound against a more common modern Rock approach laced with Stoner Rock style riffs and atmosphere. The infectious rhythms of the track and how seemlessly both styles are intertwined throughout are definitely worth taking note of as the track just asserts itself with a good deal of Metal authority. From here, the songs become hit or miss. “Gate Creeper” stands out as one of the more hit tracks to the album thanks to it the additional background vocals that give the song a little more of an emotional bite, though the track itself is largely a chugging Stoner Metal offering that’s just catchy for the most part. Of course, by the time it ends, the slower pace and funeral-esque atmosphere from the bass end up being a little drawn out. But, that’s really the only time the album can play on the listener’s nerves.

Much of Bangers II: Scum of the Earth isn’t the greatest, awe-inspiring release for it’s style, but one thing it does have going for it is the fact that the songs are never bad or come off as filler material. Instead you just have varying levels of solid songs and good material. Sadly, this release caters more to the latter, but there’s nothing here that you can’t sit back and enjoy to some extent. “Quest for the Cube” is a good example of the solid material, having a more dominant, heavier presence with faster chords to give off an all around tighter sound to the performance. The just under three and a half minute length works in it’s favor to as the band doesn’t try to keep it going any longer then it really needs to, which si what happened towards the end of “Gate Creeper.” But, prior to that you got “The Earth’s Crust” and even “Keg Stand and Deliver,” both of which are good songs, but nothing all that fantastic. The first of the two, however, really does throw an out-of-nowhere curve ball at the end when the music picks up and becomes a lot richer, accomodating some gang chants as well, all only lasting a very brief time. There’s also “host Jam,” which is perhaps the most intriguing track of the release. The song itself captures a stronger Southern vibe, but also a much better Stoner Metal presence then anything else on this album does. The bass plays a pivotol role here by setting up a deeper, crushing atmosphere that no other song has, and allows the guitars to actually come through far better then on previous tracks.

Bangers II: Scum of the Earth is far from one of the greatest efforts of it’s style, but even with that said, it’s perhaps one of the most reliable. The audio quality shows a band that sounds like something else entirely, following in the footsteps of giants in the field or similar ones, such as the aforementioned High on Fire and Mastodon. But, the music the band brings in never really gets boring, though it does eventually start to sound somewhat similar from one song to another with enough unique elements to call it different. This release feels more like a safe attempt by the band, and one that is geared more towards the larger accessible community without really going into mainstream territory. Bangers II: Scum of the Earth does feature ten good tracks with some of them actually going into solid performance territory, but if you’re looking for a casual spin or just something to kill the silence, this one wouldn’t be a bad choice at all. But for the more dedicated listener, this is one you should definitely sample first.

01. Scum of the Earth – 3:46
02. Dark Side of the Barn – 4:51
03. Gate Creeper – 5:34
04. Keg Stand and Deliver – 3:23
05. The Earth’s Crust – 4:23
06. Quest for the Cube – 3:25
07. Brother Fear – 4:06
08. Skid Marks the Spot – 3:31
09. Crushing Defeat – 4:47
10. Ghost Jam – 4:13
Overall Score: 6.5/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Metal Blade Records.