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L.A. Guns - Checkered Past review



Reviewer:
5.8

6 users:
4.67
Band: L.A. Guns
Album: Checkered Past
Release date: November 2021


01. Cannonball
02. Bad Luck Charm
03. Living Right Now
04. Get Along
05. If It's Over Now
06. Better Than You
07. Knock Me Down
08. Dog
09. Let You Down
10. That Ain't Why
11. Physical Itch


Half-cocked.

Like cockroaches surviving a nuclear bomb, L.A. Guns have clung to life where many of their glam brethren either broke up or re-emerged years later as heritage acts living off former glories. While glam metal was unceremoniously curbstomped by the arrival of grunge in the 90’s, L.A. Guns put their heads down, stuck to their *ahem* guns and kept moving forward, and have been prolific in the intervening years. 2021’s Checkered Past sees the Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis incarnation of the band release a good if unambitious album of bluesy rock that will largely pass you by. Checkered Past is an enjoyable though largely unmemorable collection of tracks that only really stick out more for what the band do wrong than right, with the album playing out with in a fairly flat fashion with only a few peaks (and more valleys) to add character to proceedings.

L.A. Guns can be counted on for producing a record that is full of entertaining guitar work, taking things back to basics and amassing a collection of riffs and solos that are fun to listen to and give the songs their character. While “Cannonball” and “Better Than You” lean on the metal part of glam, “That Ain’t Why” and “Bad Luck Charm” highlight the genre’s blues roots (though not to the extent Cinderella made famous). Guns and Von Johnson may not craft the next “Enter Sandman” or “Layla”, but they at least make for a fun listen, which is something that can often be found lacking in latter-day glam metal records.

The band’s performance otherwise matches the production and can be labelled average with little hesitation, with Lewis rarely getting out of first gear behind the microphone, only really standing out when he channels Liam Gallagher on “Better Than You”, and Hamilton’s drums being professional but passionless. The production is crisp and clear but lacks much in the way of punch or power to make the listener pay attention beyond a casual listen, which combined with the music makes it hard for you to really engage with songs like “Knock Me Down”.

The main drawbacks to Checkered Past are somewhat ironically what was the problem with many a glam record, that being formulaic and bland power ballads. “If It's Over Now” and “Let You Down” remind you of one of the worst elements of the glam genre and are something you hoped the band would have left in the 80’s when that formula worked. “Get Along” skirts close to the same cliff edge, but manages to pull itself back so that it teeters on the edge of being a bad track, while “Dog” makes you want to drop kick an otherwise ok song over the edge when Lewis woofs.

Checkered Past can unfortunately also be applied to the present, with L.A. Guns producing a record that won’t do much to move the needle, but is admirable in its attempt. Worth a listen if you are a fan of the genre or just want some fun guitar-driven rock in the background, but skippable for anyone who only has a passing interest in the genre.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 5
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 5
Production: 6





Written on 19.11.2021 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.


Comments

Comments: 6   Visited by: 37 users
20.11.2021 - 11:04
Metal Spartan

Just have to make a correction: they're sleaze metal, not glam metal. That's said, I enjoyed most of the album, although not as much as their last one.
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20.11.2021 - 11:07
JoHn DoE

Written by Metal Spartan on 20.11.2021 at 11:04

Just have to make a correction: they're sleaze metal, not glam metal. That's said, I enjoyed most of the album, although not as much as their last one.


I've never understood what sleaze metal is. Is it the lyrical content? What is it? A grittier sound?
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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20.11.2021 - 12:20
Written by JoHn DoE on 20.11.2021 at 11:07

Written by Metal Spartan on 20.11.2021 at 11:04

Just have to make a correction: they're sleaze metal, not glam metal. That's said, I enjoyed most of the album, although not as much as their last one.


I've never understood what sleaze metal is. Is it the lyrical content? What is it? A grittier sound?


It doesn't mean anything. It is an euphemism, same as glam for people that can't say, for whatever petty reason that this is pop metal.
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20.11.2021 - 19:27
Metal Spartan

Written by JoHn DoE on 20.11.2021 at 11:07

Written by Metal Spartan on 20.11.2021 at 11:04

Just have to make a correction: they're sleaze metal, not glam metal. That's said, I enjoyed most of the album, although not as much as their last one.


I've never understood what sleaze metal is. Is it the lyrical content? What is it? A grittier sound?


You actually nailed it...it's both the lyrical content and a grittier sound. Think Guns n' Roses.

In terms of it being pop metal as Lets Go Brandon said, I'd say in comparison to thrash or death metal it's definitely on the "poppier" side, but not as much as glam.
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21.11.2021 - 16:28
Rage71

I was 17 when Appetite for Destruction came out. Had spent the previous 6-7 years listening to Priest, Maiden, Dio, AC/DC, Sabbath, and to a lesser extent Def Leppard and the other glam bands. I loved Appetite and GnR because I was sick of the late 80s glam metal sound (like many). Saw them play with Skid Row opening in 92. Within a couple of years, GnR would self destruct and grunge would appear changing heavy rock for the better in my opinion especially AIC and Soundgarden. Why am I writing all this? Because through all of it, I never listened to 1 second of LA Guns. If they were good,nobody knew. I think they were probably victims of terrible timing. I will check out this album and their back catalog just so I can see if I missed anything.
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21.11.2021 - 17:49
Dorian75

If it's over now and Let you down by far the best songs of the album. There is nothing to leave behind in the '80s when the '80s are in fashion again in many aspects in music. I wish the whole album was full of songs like these two
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