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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gunslinger - Breaking Through

Gunslinger - Breaking Through
2013, Gunslinger
The post-genre movement in music has seen a lot of strange bedfellows, but there has always been something of an unwritten rule:  When it comes to guitar rock and dance music, never the twain shall meet.  Until now, that is.
Gunslinger has put down that last barrier like a rabid cur.  Big, powerful guitar sounds coincide with heavy doses of electronica and dance beats on Gunslinger’s compelling album, Breaking Through.  Having opened for acts such as Tiesto, Paul Van Dyk and Pendulum, Gunslinger is no stranger to large clouds, but bids for an even larger stage with an album that is messy, complicated, and occasionally brilliant.

Gunslinger kicks things off with the title track, which opens on a moody, post-apocalyptic sonic landscape before moving into a rhythmic dance/rock arrangement. This is a catchy and enigmatic number built on a disturbingly out of sync melodic/harmonic structure in the lead and backing vocals. The disco beat keeps it all light and danceable, however. Just watch out for the zombies. "Surrender" has an infectious, new wave feel that will get your toes tapping. The lack of enunciation in the vocal line makes it hard to follow the song, but the music will get stuck in your head. "Busy Pop" is set against a schizophonic rock arrangement that mixes instrumentation and electronic effects to create an unsettled yet decidedly pop flavored sound.

"Next In Line" finds Gunslinger writing in a balladeer roc style, but without the force of great storytelling or clearly defined musical movements. There is a certain grace to their atypical musical style, and this comes out at times during the song, but there are enough messy transitions to make this an uneven experience. "At The Top" is the song where Gunslinger puts it all together, with a coherent mid-tempo rocker with solid harmonic structure and a minimalist compositional style. Gunslinger is always going to be something of an acquired taste, but the taste is much easier to acquire here. They keep that momentum while moving to a more dance oriented arrangement for "Looking At You". The vocals start way too low for the vocalist’s or the listener’s comfort, but there is no doubt that this tune will get people out of their seats.

"Eternal" is a dark, minor key anthem full of electronics and attitude. This isn't so much a love song as an emotional fetish set to music, but the sound is absolutely compelling. Gunslinger blows out the lights with "Open Flame", an expansive and experimental number that includes many intriguing musical twists and turns. Gunslinger's chorus is catchy, driven by an irresistible pop chorus, but the band stumbles into this chorus rather than building to it with each verse. The guitar work here is impressive, however.

Gunslinger is a complex and meaty musical treat.  There are moments here that simply don’t work, yet others that work so effortlessly and brilliantly that you’ll be clamoring for more.  The marriage of big rock and dance has some wobbly legs, but Vidal and Anthem appear intent on making it work.  If Breaking Through is any indication, they are on to something.
Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)
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