Big Guns are a new Irish classic rock outfit. The debut album
coming out at the end of November - Down But Not Out - is in danger of being a
fairly accurate title, because as far as debuts go this is fairly average in a
lot of ways, but does show some promise. In the end, the promise is enough to
alleviate the aforementioned danger.
A cover of Neil Young's 'Rocking In The Free World' is musically fine, though
feels like filler, I am sorry to say, due the fact that the album is short. It's
half an hour, and it would probably have been better to have made their debut
all about themselves and leave the covers until later.
It's very formulaic, structured like most other modern day classic rock bands.
In a genre that it is very difficult to be distinctive in, the first album is
not successful in that respect. In some ways that's good - for example they've
got the classic rock tone down to a T and to be honest we want, no, we need
certain characteristics to remain. They manage to do that very well. Too
often we see bands cite themselves as being of a certain genre but in order to
be distinctive they sacrifice key elements of that genre - thus making them not
what they claim to be. Not so with Big Guns.
They are aware of their sound and have cited Priest, Thin Lizzy and AC/DC as
their main influences. Comparisons will always be drawn about debuting bands.
There's enough difference about them to ensure that, unlike others I will not
mention, I do not see these guys as a carbon copy of AC/DC or any other band.
They've distanced themselves enough in that respect.
In certain genres, we expect a certain pace, I think. For example if 90% of a
thrash metal album is fast and hard hitting then it's fine - that's what thrash
is - but I think Big Guns have missed something here: The pace in the classic
rock genre is one that can sit comfortably at anywhere in the scale, because
it's classic rock. Big Guns debut sits mainly in the middle of the range - I'd
have liked it to have included a couple more songs that were nice and fast like
the second song, "The Devils Highway". That's the only one we get that really
kicks the pace up. The songs are pretty solid - and while a little predictable
with the formula, a lot of people like that. Classic rock fans like myself will
enjoy it but will probably not think it is anything to go mad over.
The song 'Remember Me' is probably for me the weaker one of the album. Riff
feels more like Iron Maidens' 'Wrathchild' and the lead guitar tone is
very reminiscent of Maiden in that era. The vocals are what lets it down. Not
the lyrics, just the vocals - it's a good performance but it's monotone
throughout and becomes a little tiresome.
They recover brilliantly with the following song 'Kiss & Tell'. I use
'recover' loosely, cos it isn't a bad song it's just weaker than the others.
'Kiss & Tell' represents, for me, a moment when all that we love about classic
rock comes together fantastically - a catchy, memorable number about some harlot
who gets away with being a bitch because of her skills in certain areas that
enable her to ensure she gets what she wants, before leaving the red blooded
sucker of a man for dust. Or, 'dropped like a hot coal with no goodbye', as our
defeated storyteller puts it. The lyrical themes are for nothing but classic
rock and the vocal range that was lacking in the previous song is soon
I think they're ones to watch. It is definitely worth a shot and I listen to
this album knowing I will definitely see them at a live gig if they come over
here, which I hope they will.
So, down but not out? Well they're not down - on the ropes a bit maybe. They
could certainly come back off swinging and hitting harder though. Hopefully they
will, and crack me around the head in doing so - in a metaphorical sense, of
course. Overall, I have to say well done.