November 10, 2020 L.A. Guns – Renegades (Album Review)
The 1980s saw the birth of a new form of Hard Rock emerge from the Sunset Strip out in Hollywood, California. A sound that dominated a decade, many bands jumped on the bandwagon, but few have the rich history of L.A. Guns.
A band that has been making music since 1983, to recap the entire cast of characters which have been a part of the compelling story of L.A. Guns would take a novel, so let’s not go that route. In short, some of the most famous names to grace the lineup include Axl Rose, for a short stint, Ralph Saenz (Michael Starr of Steel Panther), Jizzy Pearl, Chris Holmes, and Ace Von Johnson. Then, you have the fact that there are currently two bands actively going under the name L.A. Guns – L.A. Guns with Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns, but also Steve Riley’s L.A. Guns, which was launched by longtime Guns’ Drummer Steve Riley in 2018. All these pieces of the equation laid out, Steve Riley’s version of L.A. Guns will release its debut album, Renegades, on Friday November 13, 2020 via Golden Robot Records.
Now, if you are still a bit unclear what you are getting with Riley’s L.A. Guns, let us provide a little more detail to bring the picture into focus. Riley joined the original L.A. Guns back in 1987, and is considered a signature piece of the ‘classic lineup’ that featured Guitarists Tracii Guns and Mick Cripps, Vocalist Phil Lewis and Bassist Kelly Nickels. During his tenure with the band he appeared on killer albums such as 1989’s Cocked & Loaded and 1991’s Hollywood Vampires. Then Riley left the band in 1992, rejoined in 1994, and was a key part of Phil Lewis’ version of the band from 2006 to 2016 before Lewis and Guns reunited/merged. The Lewis/Guns version put out The Devil You Know in 2019, but Riley’s L.A. Guns is set to strike with Renegades. Riley, classic Guns’ Bassist Nickels, Guitarist Scotty Griffin (also an alumni of Lewis’ L.A. Guns), along with Canadian born Vocalist Kurt Frohlich, solidify the lineup that poured themselves into Renegades. Now, after this very long-winded backstory, the real question that remains is what does Renegades offer?
Well, in enough words, it is a solid Hard Rock album cover to cover. Ten tracks in total, the ride lasts about 40 minutes and proves that these guys are seasoned musicians who make a very tight ensemble. The arrangements are smooth, lacking nothing, and beam with quality songwriting. This is evident from the get go as “Don’t Wanna Know” sets the mood with a Hard Rock Blues sound, before “Renegades” really twists itself into your ear with an extremely catchy sound. From here tracks like the acoustic led “Would,” the jamming single “All That You Are,” and mellow “You Can’t Walk Away” offer just a few of the highlights that are ahead. Then there are pure Rock tunes such as the closer “Crawl,” as well as fast, thriving “Why Ask Why” and “Well Oiled Machine.”
All and all, Renegades has a song for every mood that all possess their own unique characteristics. Telling stories that everyone can relate with, they are also laden with melodies that are top notch. This all said, Steve Riley’s vision of L.A. Guns is the real deal and something you should certainly take seriously. A great album of timeless Hard Rock, Cryptic Rock gives Renegades 4 out of 5 stars.