|Heavy Metal, Power Metal
March 23rd, 2012
Release length: 47:25
Brace for Impact carries a lighter touch to the overall audio quality of its instruments. This works well for some aspects of the recording, and not as much for others. The drums become a really mixed bag because of it. The cymbals sound pretty good, though never anything too commanding like the bass kicks, which are sort of in the middle of a thud and a click, but, if you pay enough attention, throughout the album you can literally feel them in what seems like the most natural state you can have as far as recordings go. You can’t really feel the snares the same way, nor do they make anywhere near as much of an impact, but they do have a more natural sound to them with a nice tightness. The guitars have a great crispness to them that comes through a bit lighter, and also more of a background instrument to the louder kicks during heavier songs, which does pose a problem at times considering how sharp they can be, clashing with the chords and even the clean vocals that feel a bit in the distance as well. The same goes for the bass. This instrument provides a decent lower tone as backup to the guitars, but it never really gets too deep to counter the issue of the drums versus everything else.
It also doesn’t help that the material on Brace for Impact is a little on the lighter side as well, having more of a Hard Rock influence to the Heavy Metal sound. “No Survival on Arrival” and “Brace for Impact” work out well to kick things off, with the first bleeding into the second. The epic introduction builds nicely for the declaration of the next track’s title, coming at the listener with a chugging foundation and some catchy two-stepping for the main chorus. From here, much of the album carries a strong Rock presence, but that’s not all it happens to be. “With Might & Main” gives the listener another pretty epic-sounding Heavy Metal track that ushers in a bit of attitude and aggression behind catchy, simpler material. However, it’s the chorus that really picks things up. The richer chords that hit for the chorus match a stronger vocal performance that finds some layered effects that act more as gang chants, as well as lower voices in the chorus that pull it off just as well, easily becoming one of the more engaging tracks of the release.
Of course, the change of direction on Brace for Impact becomes pretty obvious, as well as makes up much of the sound for the release. “Dancing on Torpedos” shows off that Rock vibe more than anything else. It does have a decent attitude behind it, but there are plenty of empty moments where it relies heavily on the drums, as well as the bass. There even are very small, well hidden keyboard sections when the music gets a little tighter. The final product here ends up sounding heavily inspired by “Taking Care of Business” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive thanks to all those little bits and pieces going on. “Start a Riot” stands out from the impact being made thanks to the bass, and slower pace. The early Rock influence is captured nicely here with a laid back offering that acts as a calming “fed up” song that seems to urge listeners to stand up for themselves and not putting up with what disgusts them. This seems like the same message as “Stand Your Ground,” though this one tries to bring in more of an epic vibe to the chorus, at least as far as the Rock element allows it to be. It isn’t a bad song by any means, though it just doesn’t really seem to offer up anything too unique from the early Heavy Metal sound of the eighties.
There’s nothing really that bad on Brace for Impact. This time around, Gun Barrel does go into the old-school territory a bit more than previous recordings, and it is executed well enough to make many of those songs worth experiencing, though nothing that truly stands out. If you’ve enjoyed their previous releases before, you won’t have much difficulty getting into this one, but the amount of more laid back material may turn you off a little more when compared to the back discography. With only a handful of songs that make a drastic impact, you will come back for repeat spins, though find yourself skipping over material after a while.
01. No Survival on Arrival – 1:07
02. Brace for Impact – 4:42
03. Dancing on Torpedos – 4:19
04. Books of Life – 3:47
05. Start a Riot – 4:46
06. Stand Your Ground – 4:51
07. Diamond Bullets – 4:18
08. With Might & Main – 4:12
09. The Wild Hunt – 4:44
10. Turbolence & Decadence – 4:52
11. Big Taboo – 5:47
|Initial Pressing Score: 7.5/10