Thursday, February 7, 2013

African American heavy metal from the 1980s

African American heavy metal from the dawn of the 1980s

From the cut-out bin of history, an on-going exploration of lost and forgotten rock ‘n’ rollers. Today’s discovery: Sound Barrier.
There were a lot of heavy metal bands in Southern California in the 1980s but in a crowded field of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest wannabes, one band stood out, not so much for their sound as for the color of their skin. In a scene dominated by white kids, African American chord crunchers Sound Barrier were as disorienting a sight as watching blonde bomber Wayne Cochran channel James Brown. This was the real black metal.
After two years of playing the L.A. club scene, Sound Barrier signed a deal with MCA in 1982. But their debut album, Total Control, failed to sell and subsequent recordings also did poorly. The band went through the customary line-up changes, re-grouped, but unfortunately they seemed doomed to obscurity. Sound Barrier finally broke up in 1987, leaving behind a handful of recordings and a promotional video.
Sound Barrier’s records are out-of-print but used copies are available here. The band’s music is not barrier-breaking. It’s serviceable and solid metal from a group who might have benefited from locating to the East Coast and spending some time around cats like Vernon Reid and Michael Hill for a little moral support.

Posted by Marc Campbell 

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