Unwrite These Songs
Lynyrd Skynyrd – God and Guns
September 29, 2009
Victim of Loudness War? Yes
Listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s latest release, God and Guns, it’s hard to fathom how the band strayed so far from their original (and far superior) sound. Gone are the down-home grooves and simple-yet-brilliant lyrical themes present on the band’s classic material, the songs that built their legend and remain endeared by the masses since their debut over three decades prior. What remains are trite rockers and forced ballads, reminiscent of much of the country-pop scene that is dominating the Billboard charts as of late. The bulk of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s current recordings are nothing but throwaways, nothing more than an obvious cash grab wrapped in an effort to keep the present day lineup and its name on tour and raking in the dough.
God and Guns opens with “Still Unbroken,” an utterly forgettable track that serves as the album’s first single. A little research revealed that the track has also been used as the theme song to a recent WWE Pay-Per-View event and subsequent video game, a fact that provides further evidence in the band’s current quest for commercial over artistic success. Admittedly, the track would serve the WWE perfectly, as it is disposable and forced as anything that franchise has to offer as of late. It’s sound and lyrical content are aimed at the same lowest common denominator that the WWE is aimed at, which leaves it as boring and contrived as its counterpart.
The rest of the album provides much of the same, rarely straying from the formulaic country-rock it wallows in. “Simple Life” and “Little Thing Called You” tread a path much the same as “Still Unbroken,” with no stand-out guitar work or catchy melodies to speak of. “Skynyrd Nation” is perhaps the albums biggest abomination, embracing not only the aforementioned qualities but also extremely laughable lyrics about their fans unification under one ideal, the “sweet soul Southern music” of…you guessed it: Lynyrd Skynyrd. It’s cringe-inducing at best and successfully beats Quiet Riot’s “Alive and Well” as the worst track about how a band still rocks when it clearly fails to do so on every level.
The clearest example of how Lynyrd Skynyrd has lost sight of what its all about comes with the addition of John 5 and Rob Zombie to the proceedings. Both immensely talented artists, neither one have any business leaving their mark on a Lynyrd Skynyrd record. Zombie’s contribution is relegated to one track, “Floyd,” and its an admirable attempt to merge his style with that of Skynyrd. But, like all the other tracks included here, it just can’t get up enough steam to make itself interesting and is forgotten as soon as it is over. The inclusion of John 5 is the bigger musical tragedy here, as his guitar prowess is both out of place and completely wasted on the tracks he appears on. His harder, more metal-based style (which was able to revive David Lee Roth for an album in 1998) does not belong anywhere near the countrified grit of Lynyrd Skynyrd and, again, leaves the band sounding forced and rote.
The bottom line is that anyone who loved classic Lynyrd Skynyrd or simply just values their ears should steer well away from God and Guns. Any highlights it might have are fleeting and the record will ultimately leave you with a lowered appreciation for a band that once released such essential tracks as “The Ballad of Curtis Loew,” “Gimme Back My Bullets” and “Sweet Home Alabama,” just to name a few. Thankfully, this record will no doubt quietly disappear, relegated to cutout bins and garbage pails worldwide before it can effectively drive the last nail into the Lynyrd Skynyrd coffin. Until then, you can continue to wish that the band had followed the some of the advice included on God and Guns and unwritten all of these songs.
– Ian Rice
To purchase a copy of God and Guns, please click here.
And as with all negative reviews here at The Record Review, here’s a clip from when the artist shined:
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