Frontiers [Release date 15.05.21]
An outsider may see Sunbomb as the completion of Michael Sweet’s journey to the darkside. A restlessly talented musician finally freeing himself from the strictures of Christian Rock, crossing into the world of the Sunset Strip’s heavy metal vampires, the LA Guns.
OK, we’re tongue in cheek here.The plain fact is, in a neat reversal of tradition, it’s because of their musical differences that these two artists – Tracii Guns and Michael Sweet – have come together in this manner (the album’s title is something of a giveaway).
There is a point to prove, but there are no seeds of radicalisation being sown here, the music simply reflects each artist’s worldview, written and performed with a dark and passionate intensity.
It doesn’t always work. In writing all the melodies, Guns’ love affair with doom metal comes close to derailing the album at times. The sinister tones and lurching riffs of ‘Take Me Away’ and ‘Better End’ are atonal and discomfitting, and the slow trudging
steps of ‘World Gone Wrong’ seem to lead us nowhere.
But when they get it right, it strikes a chord. The swagger and rage of the more melodic metal tracks, like ‘Life’ and ‘No Tomorrows’, are almost palpable. They are dialectics of two musical forces, and they work because they are of a deceptively simple construction, propelled by satisfying chord shifts, razoring axework and steamrollering rhythms.
The balladic, Bowie-esque ‘Been Said And Done’ is squarely in our comfort zone, and ‘Stronger Than Before’ is performed with such vigorous, animal intensity that you can’t fail to be moved.
But ultimately, despite the album’s high points, and there are a few, we are left feeling slightly short changed by two enduring rock/metal artists. ***
Review by Brian McGowan
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