Three albums since L.A. Guns guitarist Tracii Guns and singer Phil Lewis patched up their differences and got back together, and the reunion seems to be holding. Black Diamond, their fourteenth album in total, is a blast of unadulterated hard rock that calls back to the Sunset Strip’s late-80s heyday without losing itself in nostalgia.
Howling opening track You Betray crackles with electricity and menace, rooting it squarely in the here and now, and Gonna Lose’s sleaze rock energy is punctuated by a billowing, jangling breakdown, but Black Diamonds mostly wears its Hollywood heritage on the sleeve of its battered leather jacket.
Got It Wrong hitches Lewis’ charisma-over-technique vocal to an itchy Guns riff, the sneering Babylon could have snuck onto either of their first two albums without anyone noticing, and Diamonds is a scuffed, bad boy ballad with a killer chorus.
The occasional concession to modernity aside, there’s little here to scare the horses. But then no one is coming to an L.A. Guns album for prog-jazz epics, just pure-blooded rock’n’roll. And with Black Diamonds, it’s job done on that front.