Album Review: L.A. Guns – “The Devil You Know”
Call it making up for lost time if you want, but Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns seem to have been on a bit of a creative hot streak since patching up their differences and reuniting a few years back with The Devil You Know (L.A. Guns’ tenth album no less) hitting the shelves a mere 18 months after its predecessor The Missing Peace. Given that the two albums before that one had five year plus gaps between them, this is clearly a band who’ve broken the creative dam and got back to what they enjoy doing in recent years.
It’s also a very angry band, as this album sees L.A. Guns moving into much darker and heavier territory than of late with the venomous opening trio of the punky Rage, the whiplash riff of Stay Away and the furious Loaded Bomb see Lewis spitting pure venom over the band’s tense backing. What exactly they’re so angry about is open to conjecture – did the price of JD on Sunset Strip suddenly go up overnight? Did they buy a pair of new Harley boots on Ebay only for them to turn out to be wellies when the package arrived? Who knows, but the upshot is that The Devil You Know has a fury and urgency about it that’s difficult to ignore.
After the ferocious opening, the album does settle down into more mid-paced territory but it’s still a lot darker than yer typical L.A. Guns fare, with the strutting Needle To The Bone and Don’t Need To Win being highlights, while the BOC style Gone Honey and the doomy closing duo of Down That Hole and Another Season In Hell step back on the fury to allow the songs to breathe a bit.
All in all, it’s a surprisingly varied album from a band thinking outside the box to keep their sound fresh. Who says you can’t teach old dogs new tricks?
The Devil You Know is probably the heaviest album that Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns have collaborated on since 1994's under-rated Vicious Circle, and it's a surprisingly energetic album which makes a mockery of a lot of their one-time contemporaries who are happy to play it safe. Old fans should find plenty to keep them happy here, and there's enough to draw a few new ones in as well. Colour me impressed.