The L.A. Guns – American Hardcore (1996, CMC International Records)
1. “F.N.A.” … 0:21
2. “What I’ve Become” … 3:37
3. “Unnatural Act” … 4:10
4. “Give” … 3:16
5. “Don’t Pray” … 4:07
6. “Pissed” … 4:01
7. “Mine” … 3:35
8. “Kevorkian” … 4:47
9. “Hey World” … 5:01
10. “Next Generation” … 2:33
11. “Hugs And Needles” … 3:08
12. “I Am Alive” … 18:51
Chris Van Dahl – Lead Vocals
Tracii Guns – Guitar, Keyboard, Backing Vocals
Johnny Crypt – Bass, Backing Vocals
Steve Riley – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Producer: The L.A. Guns & Denis Degher
Yikes, what a difference from the days of Cocked & Loaded! American Hardcore is generally to be considered the worst album from L.A. Guns. Or should I say the worst album from The L.A. Guns? The band was really going for an image overhaul at this point in their career abandoning their traditional sleazy pop metal sound like rats fleeing sinking ship.
Just take a look at the album’s cover. With addition of “the” to their name, I guess it does make the group seem a bit more dangerous in conjunction with the album art. If I had never heard of this band before and picked this album up when it was released in 1996, I probably would have thought this was gangsta rap! Luckily, Tracii doesn’t chase that trend but along with new lead singer and ex-Cherry St. vocalist Chris Van Dahl (having replaced Phil Lewis) the Guns go for a much darker, heavier alternative vibe that sometimes comes across like Black Label Society, Marilyn Manson or Rob Zombie. Hilariously, All Music Guide refers to this album as a return to the band’s “hair metal heyday” then calls it a “standard pop-metal” release that apes KISS, Aerosmith, Motley Crue and Led Zeppelin. Um… WHAT !!
Honestly, the album isn’t too bad. It’s heavy metal, it’s alternative, it’s angry and while none of those terms typically bring to mind L.A. Guns, it’s not half bad if you’re in the right frame of mind. Chris Van Dahl actually has a decent voice for this type of music. He does the whole deep, guttural screaming thing well.
I have to wonder the point of keeping the L.A. Guns name though. Tracii was obviously taking a desperate stab at relevancy yet was holding onto a name associated with the ‘80s (the ‘80s were sooooo lame in the mid ‘90s) in order to pull in the few fans this band had at the time. He was trying to have his cake and eat it too. He should’ve just gone one step further and renamed the band. This project might’ve been better received.
Further adding the the album’s weirdness is the final track “I Am Alive”. The song ends at 6:57 and there’s nothing but silence until about the 17 minute mark where there’s some weird scene playing out with violins, prison guards talking and then some murderer gets the electric chair and we hear him screaming.
Highlights: “What I’ve Become”, “Unnatural Act”, “Don’t Pray”, “Mine”, “Hey World”