AC/DC meets Thin Lizzy. We’ve heard this combination a million times and we’ll hear it a million more times. It takes a lot for a band who can fit into this bracket to breakout and sit at the top of the pack. Big Guns are well on their way to achieving this with Down But Not Out.
When I read it “…draws influences from the sounds of AC/DC, Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest” I expected a by the numbers hard rock album, and while we do get a few riffs we’ve all heard before, we get a whole lot more. Well maybe not a whole lot, but a big chunk.
Sure, Remember Me sends you straight back in time to Metal Gods from British Steel and A Song For A Friend is more Judas Priest than Judas Priest have been in the last decade; but fuck it, those albums are a classic for a reason and it’s nice to ride the nostalgia train once in a while, especially with a modern twist on it along with high end production.
With A Song For A Friend, McArdle lowers his range down to sound like a deep Halford and this is where we get a good impression of his vocal abilities. We have someone who isn’t trying to be Bon Scott or Phil Lynott which is a hole so many classic rock singers drop into, I could easily believe this guy was one of the old masters. From high shouting vocals to the lower cleaner singing style (best displayed during their cover of Rocking In The Free World) he delivers with a powerful sincerity.
Much like McArdles avoidance of the standard singing style, the guitarists quickly escape from the standard pentatonic solo trap early on. While the riffs are your standard classic rock/early metal driving riffs, the solos give the music a much more unique spin.
They’re honest, they don’t hide behind fret wankery and pomp, it’s straight ahead rock n roll, and while I like the pomp (fuck it, I love the pomp), it truly is nice to ride that nostalgia train once in a while. It might not be a world changing record but they do what they do extremely well. They break out from the standard patterns and carve themselves a wee niche within the market.
With big riffs and big choruses these are songs designed for the live market from small dingy pubs to open air festivals. What I sometimes like to do when I listen to music is picture it played at a festival like Download, Wacken etc. While sometimes you just can’t picture how the music would transfer, this release would be perfect on a summers day in front of however many thousand fans. It would be a crime if they don’t end up on a festival bill in the next few years, or at least on a compilation CD full of driving songs you might get your dad on Fathers Day.