I’ll be honest, I am superficial. There, I’ve said it.

I often look at the covers of the albums I get sent to this website and decide – sometimes on the band logo only – whether they are a group for me.

I did it when Bang Bang Firecracker’s debut record turned up the other week. One glance at the image on the front and I’d decided that this was going to be some kind of spandex clad, sub-Tuff wannabes that were stuck in 1986.

And whilst I have to be honest too and say that such imagery on a cover in 2018 makes me a little uncomfortable, I will also happily say that on the merits of the album itself, I was wrong.

BBF is the new solo project of Keiron Berry. Most recently, perhaps seen in crossover merchants, Enemo-J. This new thing for Berry is a much more straight-ahead rock album, but not, as it goes, the sort of LA Sleaze that you might have expected.

Indeed, when it says on the press pack that came with it, “For Fans Of WASP” it is perhaps more literal than many. The genesis of the idea came when Berry was supporting Chris Holmes. The ex-WASP six stringer was a hero, and he became an inspiration.

As a result, “Welcome To The Slaughterhouse” is the type of thing that you might associate more readily, perhaps, with the USA than the UK, but really a more muscular outfit – the likes of AX7 maybe?

It is a brave effort too. “…. Slaughterhouse” begins with its title track, but does so with a grandiose piano intro. But when the filthy sounding and massive guitars kick in, it begins a ride that is fast, furious and pretty thrilling.

Berry handles the vocals himself. “Lionised debauchery” is promised, and crikey, he delivers – and he’s bang on target too, in the rhythm section he chose for this endeavour. Marcus Wrench and Russ Gwynne on bass and drums respectively ensure that nothing here is about to die wondering.

“The Non Believers” absolutely thumps and the sneer of sleaze is all the way through this. “All Thriller No Filler” is a mission statement, not a suggestion, but it is one that shows Berry’s skill as a guitar player is undiminished. Hard rock with a dark heart, it is the best thing this has to offer.

An impressive factor of these nine tracks is its desire not to be tied to one genre. “Devil Dolls” is to all intents and purposes a thrash song, but one that is filthy while it is going about its business. It is incongruous, but it works.

The old school feel continues with “Immortalised”, which even has a bit of a drum solo, while if Berry’s  playing has been diverse, then “Witch Proof” is essentially a confident, classy heavy metal gallop.

It is interesting throughout that there is a real anger here that isn’t in other records of this type. “Tasting Hatred” spits out lines about “piss soaked rats”, but I’ve listened to enough 80s LA rock in my time on this planet to recognise a proper sleaze lead when I hear it.

“Hellbent For Pleasure” is self-explanatory, perhaps, but all those LA bands that came along after Guns N Roses would have killed for this – and I daresay some of them still would.

“Welcome To The Slaughterhouse” is one of those records that finds something new to say, and one that is better than you thought it was ever going to be. Not a band that intends to shuffle in quietly, instead Bang Bang Firecracker almost demand that you acknowledge their arrival.

Expect fireworks, too.

Rating 9/10

“Welcome To The Slaughterhouse” is released on February 22nd.

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