Anyone who knows me knows that I will always stand behind a band that’s been around forever that still drops new music; even if they haven’t done anything special for decades. L.A. Guns are one of these bands. The first two records are top notch glam metal that fall into my rotation pile regularly. Everything after that is worth one trip around the disc, but not essential to revisit. The newest effort The Devil You Know rides firmly on those rails but shows some development from the past.
About two years ago, L.A. Guns released The Missing Peace, which had a handful of standout tunes with little else to offer. What helps Devil differentiate itself is the fact that it’s got a meaner production and the riffs contain a spicier attitude. “Loaded Bomb” is easily a standout number thanks to its ability to cram in unique drum kicks, groovy guitar chugs, high pitched licks and a beefy chorus. Believe it or not, the title track actually hints at doom approaches, which worked surprisingly well with Phil Lewis’s higher, nasally vocals.
But much like the previous record, there isn’t a substantial amount that sticks above the surface. You’re guaranteed to find plenty of digestible tunes that bare strong foundation, they just don’t necessarily carry the hooks. Tracii Guns really darkens his template for “Going High” which naturally draws some sharper shrieks that one wouldn’t expect from this band. It’s a bit awkward, especially with the weird transition into “Gone Honey,” one of the more laid back ditties. To say the least, it’s really intriguing. Oh, and a ballad still makes its way onto here with “One More Season In Hell.” As much as I love power ballads, I’m kinda glad this one doesn’t use the typical ‘80s formula and injects more intricacy.
The Devil You Know is a slight step up from The Missing Peace from start to finish thanks to its tougher ground and newer ideas, but the latter still has more standout moments. Both records would benefit from some trimming since they’re a bit long, but I do need to give L.A. Guns some well-deserved credit. I got the pleasure of seeing them about a week ago, and they’ve still got brilliant stage presence. For fans of the band, this is worth hearing.
The Devil You Know was released on March 29th, 2019 through Frontier Records.