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21 Guns - 'Nothing's Real' http://mail.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/75/94/fd/21-guns-nothings-real-41-1411160221.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 19, 2014    
 
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Why not give the debut a backseat and salute ‘Nothing’s Real’? It really is worthy!

Mention 21 Guns to most Melodic Rock devotees and three things should spring immediately to mind. Firstly, Thin Lizzy supremo Scott Gorman, secondly, Tommy LaVerdi’s lavish vocals and finally the band’s much lauded 1992 debut album ‘Salute’. What doesn’t spring to mind though, is their sophomore album ‘Nothing’s Real’, an album that fell victim to corporate shenanigans, a changing musical landscape and LaVerdi’s hesitation to commit to a life on the road, which ultimately resulted in his departure. The original ten track album initially emerged in 1997, but only to a Japanese audience; its U.K. release came some three years later, on the Z Records label (with six bonus tracks), but a limited pressing inevitably meant limited exposure. To imply that the timing of this re-issue/re-master is to coincide with LaVerdi’s much welcomed renaissance in L.R.S. might be deemed rather cynical, but one thing is certain, we should be grateful that it has re-emerged into our beloved Melodic Rock domain. Joining Gorman (guitars), Leif Johansen (bass) and Mike Sturgis (drums) comes a young Norwegian, Hans-Olav Solli (Psycho Motel, Sons Of Angels), bringing with him an edgier vocal more in tune with 1990s Hard Rock than the 1980s Hair Metal/AOR vibe of ‘Salute’… and what a great job he does!

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From the opening Jimi Hendrix style riff of ‘No Soul’, it’s evident that this is a cleaner, clearer and crisper version than its 2000 predecessor; and from a melodious point of view it certainly Rocks harder than the debut. In my opinion, there isn’t any one song amongst the original ten that could be classed as a filler. ‘Underground’ and ‘Mister Mofo’ are all-out Rockers, whilst the mid-tempo ‘Come On In’ and haunting ‘Movin’ On’ highlight Gorman’s more affable side. Understandably, ‘King’s Vengeance’ is the song most people can/will relate to and, dare I say, this version is better than the rather insipid 1975 TL original?! It fluctuates back and forth from acoustic to full-blown electric and back again… majestic! The two tracks that blew yours truly away though were ‘U&I’ and the monumental title track; the former exemplifying what an impressive, powerful balladic voice Solli has, whilst the latter, with its tribal rhythm section and soaring chorus, is all about Gorman’s fret brilliance.

The six bonus tracks, although in no danger of setting the world alight, are sonically worthy of inclusion. These are topped and tailed by Solli’s vocals, whilst fans of LaVerdi will be especially pleased with the remaining four, which were surplus to the Salute sessions; ‘The Picture’ and ‘Cold Heart’ being the pick of the bunch.

Why not give the debut a backseat and salute ‘Nothing’s Real’? It really is worthy!

Dave Crompton

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