BULLET
"Highway Pirates"

(Sound Pollution)

01. Highway Pirates
02. Back On The Road
03. Stay Wild
04. Blood Run Hot
05. Fire And Dynamite
06. Down And Out
07. Knuckleduster
08. Heavy Metal Dynamite
09. Citylights
10. Into The Night

RATING: 7.5/10

They've bitten bullets and pirated on the open highway, but the one thing at which Sweden's BULLET is best is playing big-riffed, no-frills, hooky heavy metal and blistering hard rock. Sophomore album "Bite the Bullet" helped establish BULLET as a traditional heavy metal act with which to be reckoned, although North American recognition still seems to elude them. The third round of cannon shots comes in the form of "Highway Pirates", another true blue, denim 'n leather rocker that deserves to be heard by fans of everyone from AIRBOURNE to SAXON.

The AIRBOURNE reference serves another purpose; that of demonstrating that BULLET, like their Australian brethren, takes that vintage AC/DC have-riff-will-travel mentality to heart. That and a Hell Hofer vocal style that takes a lot of Brian Johnson and sprinkles it with a little Udo Dirkschneider makes AC/DC a most important point of comparison. However (and that's a sizeable "however"), while "Bite the Bullet" too crossed AC/DC with a who's who of NWOBHM acts, the combination is taken a little further this time, thanks to an added level of arrangement dynamics, regardless of the unlikelihood that BULLET is in any danger of being mistaken for RUSH. This one is still all about the anthem and straight ahead songs like "Stay Wild" (with those great ACCEPT backing vocals on the chorus) and the AIRBOURNE-esque "Heavy Metal Dynamite" (complete with killer cowbell) are this band's bread and butter. In addition to some better soloing though are songs like "Fire and Dynamite" that incorporate more tension-and-release qualities, including slow-build sections that are vaguely reminiscent of moments from DEF LEPPARD's "High 'N' Dry", mainly "Hit and Run". Don't take that as a quality comparison though as "Hit and Run" will win every time. The point is that the added variety makes for a more complete album for the rigidly front-to-back listeners among you.

That doesn't mean that there isn't the occasional awkward moment, such as the chorus on "Caravan Woman", or that every song is a proverbial touchdown. But those moments are rare and on "Highway Pirates" BULLET continues to serve as a bright, shining beacon of loud, proud, and catchy heavy metal rock 'n roll. I've stated it before and I'll state it again, we need more bands like BULLET to keep this increasingly muddled scene honest and uncomplicated.

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