• Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

LA GUNS – BLACK DIAMONDS album review

LA Guns released BLACK DIAMONDS on 14 April 2023. It’s the 14th album by the band (not counting covers albums or releases from Riley’s LA Guns).

LA Guns were kings of the sleaze and glam scene in their heyday, featuring a killer guitarist in the form of Tracii Guns, and a unique sound thanks to the presence of British vocalist Phil Lewis. This dynamic duo was separated for many years, but to the enthusiasm of fans all around the world, they reunited several years ago, releasing new studio albums that were among the best the band had ever released. BLACK DIAMONDS is the fourth studio album from LA Guns since Guns and Lewis reunited. It’s been a long and interesting journey with many different incarnations of the group over the years. Fellow classic lineup member Steve Riley formed his own separate version of the band, now known as Riley’s LA Guns, and they have an album coming out later this year too, but that’s a story for another day.

The reunion of Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis has spawned some amazing albums full of killer rock anthems; it’s rare that I can say any 80s band is still releasing music as good as that which originated in their heyday, but the current version of LA Guns is doing just that. Even their stage presence is just as strong, as I saw when the band performed here in Vegas last December. Following up THE MISSING PEACE, THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, and CHECKERED PAST is no easy task when you consider lightning struck not once, not twice, but three times already. Does it strike a fourth time with the arrival of BLACK DIAMONDS?

Did Tracii and Phil sell their souls for rock and roll? I don’t know how else to explain the hot streak these guys have been on, but it continues with BLACK DIAMONDS, which may actually have proclaimed the title of the best studio effort to arrive since the reunion of these two key members of the band. The band doesn’t waste any time getting started with the blistering “You Betray,” which feels like the spiritual successor of Led Zeppelin’s classic anthem “Immigrant Song.” “Diamonds” is the obligatory ballad, but surprisingly well done; it feels like it could’ve been ripped straight of the late 80s or early 90s. One of my personal favorite moments on the album is “Babylon” (not a cover of the Faster Pussycat song) which feels like the band’s homage to 60s garage rock.

The band even embraces a bluesy sound on “Shame,” another surprise highlight. “Gonna Lose” combines melodic versus and a hard rocking chorus; this song would’ve been right at home on a Saigon Kick album. Cuts like “Got It Wrong” and “Lowlife” feel like classic sleazy, dirty, raw old-school LA Guns songs. While the title of “Crying” sounds like it would be another ballad, it’s actually an upbeat infectious power pop-flavored rocker. Closing out the album is “Like a Drug,” giving us a great vocal performance from Phil Lewis, and guitar work from Tracii Guns reminiscent of classic Thin Lizzy albums (and that’s most definitely a good thing).

I don’t know what Phil and Tracii’s secret is, but they’ve unleased a FOURTH consecutive killer record in the form of BLACK DIAMONDS. Age is just a number here; these guys are as good as they were in their Sunset Strip heyday, aging like a fine wine. In a year that’s already given us several impressive rock releases, LA Guns finds themselves near the top of the heap with their latest. Absolute highest recommendations!

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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