|Gun - 'Break The Silence' (earMUSIC)|
|Written by Gaz E|
|Friday, 29 June 2012 04:30|
Honestly speaking, when I first laid ears on the music of Gun I never anticipated being truly excited about the prospect of a new album from the band, some twenty three years later.
That 1989 debut, 'Taking On The World', was a curious one to us rock-afflicted souls. The band seemed to come from nowhere and suddenly be supporting the likes of the Rolling Stones and Bon Jovi in stadiums; the uber-cool (then) guitarist Baby Stafford aside, this band could easily have had more in common with the likes of Texas and Simple Minds (outfits who I would later find out actually shared some of the same blood as well as nationality as the band), chart-aiming pop rock with great hooks that floated a little too lightly for my riff-heavy palate.
It would take second album 'Gallas' (oddly after Stafford had jumped ship) to really endear the band to my person. And I quickly became glad that it had happened as I happily fell in love with pretty much everything that the band released; third album 'Swagger' was great and I even loved its follow up - the one with the phone number for a title that no-one I know has ever been able to remember - which polarized opinions with its pop experimentation and, subsequently, tanked at the cash registers. The band split up the same year as that album was released, 1997, and I guess that we all thought that the Nineties had robbed us of yet another musical favourite.
The news that the band were to reunite, some eleven years later, with Toby Jepson fronting the band stirred something of a mixed reaction inside of me: I loved Mark Rankin's voice, yet fully understood, as disappointing as it was, his decision to not rejoin the band. Jepson's stint in Little Angels, impressively successful it has to be said, never really floated my boat, so it was with some reservations that I welcomed the former Mr Thrud mainman into a band that he had guested with at a select number of reunion shows before being officially recruited.
If I had been wearing a hat when I saw Gun at the Hard Rock Hell festival in December 2009 then I would not have needed to worry about breakfast in a holiday camp canteen the next morning as my appetite would have been quelled by a mixture of wool and hair: I sang my heart out to every song as the band turned in the set of the weekend. The new EP that the band was promoting, 'Popkiller', would blow me away too. Gun was back, they were different, but they were still great.
Then Jepson had to go and spoil it all by walking out on the band just over six months later.
The future certainly looked bleak for the band. Several weeks later, however, the band announced that it was to continue, bass player Dante Gizzi, famed for his fronting of the fantastic 'Something Worthwhile' from 1994's 'Swagger', leaving his instrument to take over as the band's singer. Now, some two years later, Gun return with a new line-up (Gizzi's brother Jools joined on guitar by Dante's former El Presidente bandmate Johnny McGlynn, Paul McManus on drums and Derek Brown on bass) and a new album, 'Break The Silence'.
So, Gun is back, again. They're different, again.....but are they still great?
'Butcher Man' opens the new, eleven track album and a cocksure ice breaker it certainly is. Dante's vocals share the tune with some foxy female backing vox and, with a basic riff and trademark hook, Gun is back to...err...rescue you.
'14 Stations' follows and has a definite Velvet Revolver vibe to it. That GNR connection will not go away, trust me, as 'Lost & Found' opens up with a vocal that brings a certain ginger diva to mind; so much so that Dante's voice has polarized opinion at URHQ almost as much as '01 811 8055' ever did. In fact, the sound of the bassist-turned-singer's vocals forced an uber-reviewer to take the fifth, leaving me to break the silence, as it were. Me? I just think 'Spacehog' and everything is fine.
'Caught In The Middle' is the first example of the kind of emotive, middle of the road, thoughtful rock tune that Gun trademarked a couple of decades ago, while the album's title track dusts off the synth that smeared itself all over 'Popkiller' before, after hinting at a Killers-style in its verses, opening up into a massive hook typical of this band. 'How Many Roads' ushers in a ballad that, again peppered with sweet female vocals, satisfies with its subtle strings and tone.
'No Substitute' sounds like the Gun of old, irrespective of the vocalist. It sounds like something from that criminally-ignored fourth album, if the truth be told, and it comes, seventh song in, at a time when the doubts tend to creep into a long player - filler time for some. Not so 'Break The Silence' which actually grows as it creeps towards its end. Take 'Bad Things' for example; the song opens not unlike fellow Nineties favourites Baby Chaos before breaking out into a hook that motors into, and this is gonna separate the men from the boys, a massive Big Country-style guitar workout. They're fellow countrymen, granted, and Gun has actually shared stages with the reunited outfit in recent times but, c'mon, they don't exactly push everyone's buttons.
'Innocent Thieves' opens with a gorgeous hook of massive, wonderfully simplistic fashion before, and I can't put off mentioning it any longer, Dante turns in a vocal more Axl Rose than the Auburn Anus himself. It's hard to not think of the once-great frontman but, thankfully, the majestic qualities of a great song swell the head with thoughts of other, nicer, things.
Tenth song in and, really, the band should be padding the running time out with filler. Nope, not even close: 'Running Out Of Time' is another slowburner centred around a crucial melody that really hits the mark. Final song 'Last Train' shifts the tempo up a gear and cruises the album to its conclusion, a trademark vocal refrain and guitar hook checking every box opened up by the arrival of a new Gun long player.
There is no questioning of the band's ability to pen, and perform, some of the catchiest tunes known to UK musical combos. No, the question marks will be raised over the 'new' frontman. Personally, I'll take a Gun fronted by Dante Gizzi over no Gun at all: sure, the guy has some big shoes to fill but I don't think anyone doubts that he isn't ballsy enough to tackle that task.
Better than 'Popkiller'? Honestly, no. Better than nothing? Answering that question would just be rude. Gun, with 'Break The Silence', has pretty much silenced the majority of doubters, providing us with, certainly, something worthwhile. I look forward to catching this new version of the band live very soon.
To get your copy of 'Break The Silence' - CLICK HERE