Riding the crest of the British emo-rock wave, High Wycombe five-piece Young Guns' 2010 debut, All Our Kings Are Dead, offered little to differentiate the group from the likes of You Me at Six, Kids in Glass Houses, or the countless other bands that have cornered the Kerrang! market since the rise of Lostprophets. Despite frontman Gustav Wood's claims that their second album, Bones, recorded in locations as diverse as a luxury studio in Thailand and a shed in the small village of Little Marlow, is something of a rebirth, the majority of its 12 tracks encounter exactly the same indistinguishable problems as their first. Their ability to create full-throttle, ear-shattering stadium rock anthems is never in doubt, as evident on the rabble-rousing call-and-response nu metal title track, the aggressive glam-tinged punk of "Towers (On My Way)," and the propulsive Foo Fighters-esque opener, "I Was Born, I Have Lived, I Will Surely Die." But with previous producer Dan Weller (Enter Shikari, Rise to Remain) back on board and a continued reliance on the quiet verses/loud chorus formula and overblown angst-ridden lyrical themes, it's very much a case of business as usual, with only the blue-collar post-rock of "Brother in Arms" and the stripped-back melancholy of closer "Broadfields" fully living up to their rather bold statement of intent. Indeed, with the most uncharacteristic offerings appearing courtesy of the two brief interludes, the bandmembers only seem interested in dipping their toes in more experimental waters, which is a shame considering that the reflective balladry of "A Hymn for All I've Lost" and the chiming instrumental "Interlude" suggest they're more than capable of deviating from the norm. Bones is undeniably still a solid follow-up that should consolidate their second-tier status, but they'll have to change the record next time around if they want to move into U.K.'s alt-metal big league.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien