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All Our Kings Are Dead - Young Guns

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Genre: Rock / Artist: Young Guns / Audio CD released 2010-07-12 at Live Forever

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      18.11.2013 00:53
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      An amazing debut that rock and metal fans alike should enjoy but highly underrated

      Young Guns, hailing from High Wycombe just up the road from me, are a relatively new band on the scene even though they've been together since 2003, effectively kick-starting their career with the release of an EP "Mirrors" in 2009 and going on tour with, also very similar in style, the band Lostprophets (a band who are now monumentally dead to me given the vile revelations surrounding the lead singer Ian Watkins). The band consists of Gustav Wood (lead vocals), Fraser Taylor (lead/rhythm guitar), John Taylor (rhythm /lead guitar), Simon Mitchell (bass guitar) and Ben Jolliffe (drums, percussion, backing vocals). After touring for a while the band released their debut studio album "All Our Kings Are Dead" in 2010 featuring "Weight of the World" originally from "Mirrors" which admittedly didn't make a huge impact on the UK album charts peaking at #43 but actually faring better on the alternative rock and indie charts peaking at #3 for both so the rock scene was starting to take notice of them, although only two of the five singles released even charted and that was on the alternative charts only, so as of this point they were very much in the shadows.

      Since then they have released the album "Bones" in 2012 (hopefully with many more to come) which did better peaking at #19 in the UK main album charts and #3 and #2 in the UK alternative Indie and Rock charts respectively but still with no success in the main singles charts. However I first came across them, rather bizarrely considering they are an English band, via them being hyped up by another one of my favourite bands from Canada, Parabelle, who were raving about their latest single "Bones" which did spectacularly well in the US getting to number one on the main charts whilst only peaking at #130 in the UK. You what? Still, one listen of their single "Bones" was enough for me to know I had a great chance of liking this band, so I dived right in to their first album "All Our Kings Are Dead" as I feel it's always best to get to know a new band from their humble beginnings.


      ==All Our Kings Are Dead==

      I'd best describe this album as hard but melodic / atmospheric rock, occasionally slipping into full on metal. Gustav Wood has an excellent rock voice, very smooth and powerful capable of being quite growling on the angry end of the spectrum and full of affecting emotion at the other end. This is very much a guitar lead band, albeit occasionally dabbling with a more synthesised / orchestral sound, with some amazing melodies and catchy riffs but always on the angry or dark side - just my kind of thing. Their opening track, the second single released, "Sons of Apathy" is a cracking opening with electrifying guitars, and an almost anthemic quality to it with a chant for the chorus. It's pretty raw and intense with a pleasing bitter undertone to it matched by the powerful vocals but it also undergoes changing tempos throughout to cause a constant ebb and flow. Lyrically, there is something a little poetic and surreal about the proceedings which stirs up the old grey cells with intrigue - "My father was an oak, the earth moved when he spoke. My father conquered seas, but was not there for me".

      "D.O.A" has a very similar feel to it, again with an equalling intensity with the guitars and vocals as well as another somewhat anthemic chant for the chorus. Here however the guitar melody is a bit more obvious and there is a bit more emotion to the song as a whole whilst still maintaining a dark edge and this one is ultimately slightly catchier. The lyrics are again rather cryptic and open to interpretation but I get a vibe of a subtle slight on society's seeming decline into an apathetic state where trivial matters take on the utmost importance and vital issues are ignored - "Neon and silhouettes, stare at the light and not yourself. Seems we don't bury our dead. We watch but we don't learn, entertained but unconcerned, and unaware". Another fairly up tempo and catchy tune is "Crystal Clear", the third single released, which still had rip-roaring guitar melodies but is a lot less dark with a more optimistic air to it. Vocally it is still an explosive affair but lyrically this is definitely the kind of song that could be used to find the motivation to kick yourself into gear with a much more obvious meaning throughout - "It's crystal clear to me that I've been killing time. Nothing's going to stand in my way, no I'm not done, even if the sun sets I will start a fire to change your mind".

      "Weight of the World" was the fourth single released and is a much more toned down song with a medium tempo and a more emotional slant but still has some brilliantly melodic and catchy guitar riffs. Noticeably in this song is the absence of all traces of anger being replaced by a more tragic symphony with elements of despair and defeat emanating throughout and vocally Wood uses much softer and gentler tones. Lyrically there is an undercurrent of sadness that makes this quite a captivating song - "Maybe it's gravity that pulls her to my chest. Not the fear that she is the source of what little strength I've got left. I don't wanna know, 'cause I'm so scared. It's not gonna get easier than this because it's too much to bare my darlin', the weight of the world". Another dark song is "Winter Kiss", the first single released. This one has a slightly orchestral feel to it with an eerie intro and a generally creepy vibe throughout that almost feels gothic at times. I love the sinister guitars and vocally Wood adds a desperate quality that fit in perfectly, not to mention the spookiness of the lyrics - "I want to sleep, but I hear voices, I hear them calling out to me. This winter kiss has left me poisoned and I will never be the same again".

      "Endless Grey" is a simmering, atmospheric song that slow burns to an intense chorus with Woods adding a strangely detached quality to his vocals. Another medium tempo tune, once again the guitars are at the forefront with some stunning riffs and dark vibes and this song is lacking any real anger instead with just a depressing downward spiral taking hold - "While my heart collapses like old clay, heed my warning, stay away. All of my colour is bleeding away, so now you watch me fade into the endless grey". This song certainly doesn't have the same instant impact that some of the more intense ones do, but it's a grower and soon becomes one of the more memorable on the album. One of my favourite tunes on the album is "At the Gates" which I feel has a heady mix of darkness, drama and despair with some epic guitars especially towards the climax of the song. This song is very atmospheric enhanced by a subtle use of the synthesiser to create the eeriness and Wood once again rises to the challenge matching the ever changing mood of the song with panache including some highly emotional parts. Lyrically once again darkness wins out - "So I'll stand at the gates screaming "I am not afraid". But there's no-one listening to me. I know I'm to blame for my hands amongst the flames, I just want to feel alive."

      Sticking with the slightly creepy, dark theme is "Stitches" which again is unsettlingly moody. Once again there is a gripping melody and somewhat furious chorus as seems prevalent throughout the album as a whole and this one is another massive favourite of mine. Once again there are some epic guitar riffs, possibly becoming a trademark for the band, that fluctuate in intensity but maintaining a high level of passion right through. Wood really delivers in this song pushing things to the extreme with some equally impassioned vocals and lyrically once again the band excels with some affectingly visceral verse - "Every hour is a season, every minute lasts a day. So I sit here picking stitches, 'cos I find comfort in decay. How I long to fill my lungs.". The band however is capable of some slow tempo songs, although I wouldn't describe them as ballads. "Meter & Verse" is one such example with very gentle yet emotionally charged guitars (although they do pick up the pace later) and one of the more sensitive vocal performances from Woods. Despite still having dark undertones this is quite a sweet song albeit in a twisted way with some pretty self-deprecating lyrics - "She sees me as an eagle though I am just a crow. She sees me as a diamond though I am just a weathered stone." - the band show a softer side to themselves with this one.

      Likewise "Elements" is of a much slower tempo to begin with but is not quite as memorable or captivating as "Meter & Verse" but is still a pretty passionate song. The guitars pretty much take centre stage and the message gets a little bit lost as the guitars become more and more intense and the original sense of displacement is replaced with a slightly disparate and unbefitting sense of anger through both the music and the different emotions Wood exudes. Still the hooks are there and it is a catchy song, but just not as mesmerising as some other songs and the lyrics also have less of an impact - "It's twenty below that I don't feel the cold, anymore. Though the elements conspire to drain me of desire, I move on". In stark contrast "After the War" whilst on paper seems to follow the same pattern with a slow tempo and gripping emotion making way for an ever increasing intensity through both vocals and music, the balance is spot on with this one and the message from the song, one of the nightmare of war, becomes more vivid as a result - "So join me in this pale moonlight, swear that we won't lose the fight. Dig deeper into the sand, and always swim against the tide. We swear an oath to those who've died we will never forget". Another genuinely touching song.

      That just leaves "Beneath the Waves" the 7 and a half minute masterpiece to close out the album. Just as the opening track was, this is another explosive, sinister and raw song with crunching guitars intermingled with sporadic moments of respite. The angry guitars eventually come to rest...or so you think as when it seems they have almost faded to black they erupt back into full force for one last attack. It is not the catchiest song on the album but certainly contains all the passion the rest of the album holds in spades and is a fitting way to sign off. There is some fine imagery at work here with a good old drowning metaphor in play - "The oceans rise to break the bow and I find peace within the sound of water rushing in. So bid farewell to all you know, take your place way down below, we'll sleep beneath the waves". So as debut albums go "All Our Kings Are Dead" is simply brilliant without a single duff track to mar things. It is moody and atmospheric, sometimes sinister, sometimes touchingly emotional but through and through a way to showcase some seriously captivating guitar riffs and melodies and something I think all rock and metal fans would enjoy. A sadly unknown and highly underrated album, but hopefully the success of their second album will allow this one to see the light of day. Recommended times infinity.

      ==Tracks==

      1. Sons of Apathy - 9/10
      2. Crystal Clear - 8/10
      3. Meter & Verse - 9/10
      4. Weight of the World - 9/10
      5. D.O.A - 9/10
      6. Stitches - 10/10
      7. Winter Kiss - 10/10
      8. Elements - 8/10
      9. After the War - 9/10
      10. Endless Grey - 10/10
      11. At the Gates - 10/10
      12. Beneath the Waves - 9/10

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    • Product Details

      Disc #1 Tracklisting
      1 Sons Of Apathy
      2 Crystal Clear
      3 Meter And Verse
      4 Weight Of The World
      5 DOA
      6 Stitches
      7 Winter Kiss
      8 Elements
      9 After The War
      10 Endless Grey
      11 At The Gates
      12 Beneath The Waves