Hailed as one of the most exciting bands to emerge from the British emo-rock scene, it's not hard to see why High Wycombe five-piece Young Guns were recently invited to open for Bon Jovi on their 02 residency and share the bill with Guns N' Roses at the previous year's Reading Festival, such is the anthemic stadium rock nature of their debut album, All Our Kings Are Dead, released through their own Live Forever label. The album's Dan Weller-produced 12 tracks are chock-full of fist-pumping choruses and pounding rock radio riffs perfectly designed for raising the roof at venues much more imposing than the scene's usual toilet circuit, as on the opening double whammy of "Sons of Apathy," a reverb-laden singalong that deals with the issue of the lack of a father figure, and the Lostprophets-esque "Crystal Clear," as well as the adrenaline-charged "Weight of the World" and the military rhythms and crunching guitars of "Stitches." But while the album firmly establishes their epic credentials, it suffers from a lack of subtlety, as even when Young Guns attempt to embrace their melancholic side, as on the gothic piano of "Winter Kiss" and the orchestral intro of "After the War," they still seem reluctant to abandon their blistering rock formula, while the mosh pit-inducing "D.O.A." and '90s metal throwback "Endless Grey" appear rather overblown and contrived bids to court the Kerrang! audience who might be skeptical about their less-than-credible recent support slots. Gustav Wood's passionate soaring vocals and heartfelt lyrics ensure that Young Guns offer enough variation to stand out from their counterparts, but All Our Kings Are Dead is too much of a one-note affair to fulfill their glowing predictions.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien