On 23rd July 2010 at 11:10 Chris Flynn (f) wrote...
By Young Guns
Young Guns have a meatier, hard-rock and metalcore influenced take on melodic punk rock. Although this album delivers a sugar-suckerpunch, it has the big riffs to extend that headrush into something more long-lasting.
Young Guns come out fighting with the explosive double-whammy of 'Crystal Clear' and 'Sons of Apathy.' Previous single 'Crystal Clear' is a cavernous crunch, shot through with runaway trains of pop-punk riffing. It's the point where giddiness runs headfirst into headbang-worthy hard-rock. And that's before you factor in a chorus crammed with fist-pumping, shout-along gang vocals. 'Sons of Apathy' subscribes to the same formula. This song booms and crunches like metalcore, beneath a tumble of sleek, darting riffs. 'Crystal Clear' and 'Sons of Apathy' are lumbering beasts, dressed up in euphoric, pop-punk silliness. Instantly likeable, and with lasting appeal; Young Guns are a band for the greedy. Young Guns encourage us to continue gorging on the best bits of several genres, with the honey-coated hard-rock of 'Weight of The World.'
While this combination of lurking hard-rock and Lostprophets-style enthusiasm is the starting point for every 'All Our Kings Are Dead' song, this isn't the whole story. Young Guns also have the ability to sound absolutely massive. The three hundred and sixty degrees chorus of 'Meter & Verse' was designed to blast stadium roofs clean off. 'After The War' is a blurry-eyed, hard-rock epic, where every note is soaked with echoes. The lush guitars have a woozy slant that's pleasantly trippy and surreal. Still, 'After The War' could have fallen foul of the beautiful-but-directionless trap, if it wasn't for frontman Gustav Wood, whose voice frequently breaks loose from the fug and stabs out a clear, pointed note, giving this pretty haze some much-needed teeth.
When you've already unleashed a cinematic feast like 'Meter & Verse,' there's only one thing to do: up the ante with a military drum line. 'Stitches' is Young Guns' usual solid wall of crunchy riffs and swirls of hooky guitars, with a marching backdrop. Wood's voice may lose its edge in the racket, but when everything else in a song is cranked up to 11, you hardly notice the one thing that's only cranked up to 9.
'D.O.A,' 'Winter Kiss' and 'Endless Grey' are a little different. 'Winter Kiss' adds strings and pianos, and ends up smacking faintly of Elliot Minor. It may feel odd in the context of the album, but 'Winter Kiss' has a sleek, poppy darkness and an absolute stormer of a chorus, which both equal a good time. This is Young Guns' most mainstream moment.
'D.O.A' and 'Endless Grey' stand out for the exact opposite reason: they are 'All Our Kings Are Dead's heaviest moments. 'Endless Grey' has a base of walloping heavy metal, with a light, accessible topping that disguises how heavy it all is. 'Endless Grey' is stealth metal. 'D.O.A' is even heavier, serving up a stylish collection of disjointed riffs, cemented together with lashings of gang vocals. But, Young Guns still find a way to get the adrenaline glands squirting, as 'D.O.A' spins the unsuspecting listener into a flat-out gallop of a chorus.
Young Guns do miss the mark on one occasion, with 'Elements.' They get the foundations right, laying down a swaggering heavy metal riff, but then proceed to water it down with the rest of the song. Whenever Young Guns take 'Elements' down to an instrumental, it's ferocious, but as soon as they start adding extra layers, it all goes wrong. A frustrating missed opportunity.
The piano of 'Winter Kiss' makes a surprise return on 'At The Gates.' The mood of this song is dragged down by the two-tonne weight of some seriously moody piano. Sparsely used and perfectly placed, the piano tweaks the Young Guns formula, making them sound fresh again at this late point in the album.
Young Guns come to a suitably dramatic ending, with 'Beneath The Waves.' Like the rest of this album, 'Beneath The Waves' serves up rumbling drums and crunching guitars, beneath a skin-deep smile of glimmering riffs, perfectly encapsulating how Young Guns cover all bases.
'All Our Kings Are Dead' comes across like a melodic punk album, with heavy metal broiling just beneath the surface. An album that snarls quietly beneath a speedy, fun veneer, 'All Our Kings Are Dead' is just as likely to appeal to pop-punkers, as it is to fans of metal and hard-rock.