Just over a year ago from LA Guns released their comeback album, The Missing Peace. It was a decent stab at past glories, and it’s no surprise that a number of the songs from that album are played live. Their quick-fire delivery of follow-up, The Devil You Know, was eagerly anticipated by those who remember this mob as being among the leading players of the 1980s Sunset Strip scene. But things get off to a messy opening with ‘Rage’. It sounds as if there might be a half decent punk song in there somewhere but, as on many occasions on this album, it’s lost in the poor production.
‘Stay Away’ sounds more like classic LA Guns, in a pale shadow of the band’s early years, and ‘Loaded Bomb’ is all a bit ‘meh’, although a good solo from Tracii Guns helps it get better as it goes on. Things do pick up a bit from here. The title track, which has already made its way into their live sets, is a slower paced song which opens with a crunching Sabbath-esque riff, and there’s an even better riff halfway through.
The intro to ‘Needle to the Bone’ channels the Stones, while ‘Gone Honey’ is a reasonable foot-tapper, and one of those occasions when singer Phil Lewis sounds better when he’s reining it in a bit. The up-tempo ‘Don’t Need to Win’ is a decent track that could have been on Cocked and Loaded, and this is another one that should work well live. There are, though, too many average moments on this album. Guitar work by Guns just about saves ‘Down That Hole’, but ‘Going High’ really goes nowhere, and ditto with ‘Another Season in Hell’. Bonus track ‘Boom’ brings nothing to the party.
It all means that The Devil You Know falls short of its predecessor. That’s a shame, because it’s always refreshing when these reformed bands attempt to move forward rather than becoming their own tribute acts. That Lewis and Guns have stuck together for a second album after their reunion is also welcome. Both of them are on good form here , although not helped by the mix, the quality of the songs means that this is one for the diehards only.