L.A. GUNS – Black Diamonds

L.A. GUNS - Black Diamonds cover art
  • 6.5/10
    L.A. GUNS - Black Diamonds - 6.5/10


Label: Frontiers Music S.R.L.
Release date: April 14, 2023

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Hard Rock Veterans L.A. Guns released their 14th album, Black Diamonds released on April 14, 2023, on Frontiers Music. Black Diamonds is also the fourth release since the reunion of singer Phil Lewis and guitarist Tracii Guns. Since the reunion, L.A. Guns have released Checkered Past (2021), The Devil You Know (2019), and The Missing Peace (2017). Tracii Guns produced the album while the writing credits for Black Diamonds is shared between Lewis and Guns.

Guns Saga

Since the formation of the band in 1983, L.A. Guns have undergone multiple lineup changes. In 2021, longtime (and former) drummer Steve Riley, reached a court settlement over the rights to the name of L.A. Guns and the trademark. Riley’s version of the band will go on as Riley’s L.A. Guns as Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis continue on as the original L.A. Guns.

Rounding out the rest of the lineup for this album is Johnny Martin (bass), Ace Van Johnson (guitars, backing vocals), and Adam Hamilton (session drums). Shawn Duncan (drums) is the newest member of the band behind the kit when touring. Most of 2022 saw Guns and Lewis and company writing and recording the material for Black Diamonds. Per Phil Lewis’s Facebook post back in October 2022, “Incredibly happy to announce the completion of our fourth record (post-reunion). Great songs, fantastic playing, and some of the best singing of my career. It’s heavy and dark in places and bright n breezy in others. It’s all over the place as per our usual style.”

Black Diamonds

Per the press release, “The band doesn’t shy away from flexing their hard rock influences as they always have, but also incorporates more introspective acoustic tracks reflective of their Classic Rock influences from the ’70s.” The writing and the feel of the songs on this album can be described as a mix of traditional L.A. Guns and 70′ Hard Rock. Tracii Guns mixes acoustic guitars into the songs on this album which gives tracks “Gonna Lose” and “You Betray” a classic Led Zeppelin-ish feel. “Diamonds” is the prototypical hard luck diamond in the rough ballad that will end up stuck in your head (as it did for this reviewer). “Lowlife” epitomizes the classic uptempo L.A. Guns sound and attitude of the early years. “Like a Drug” has a punky feel beat but this song is drowned in over-cliched lyrics, “You’re like a drug and I can’t get enough.”

The production of Black Diamonds is solid as the mix is well balanced. Phil Lewis really sounds good and clear. Of the three previous albums since Lewis and Guns reunited, Black Diamonds has a more Classic Rock vibe compared to Checkered Past and seems to lack the energy and intensity compared to The Missing Peace (think back to the single “Speed” which is L.A. Guns at their best). Black Diamonds has a runtime of 41 minutes over 11 tracks.

Final Thoughts

Black Diamonds has its moments but overall seems to lack the fire and high energy of past albums. Some fans of the band will find this album to sound too much like Zeppelin, yet fans will appreciate the classic L.A. Guns elements that do exist on Black Diamonds.


  1. You Betray
  2. Wrong About You
  3. Diamonds
  4. Babylon
  5. Shame
  6. Shattered Glass
  7. Gonna Lose
  8. Got It Wrong
  9. Lowlife
  10. Crying
  11. Like A Drug


Phil Lewis – Vocals
Tracii Guns – Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Mellotron
Ace Von Johnson – Electric Guitars
Johnny Martin – Bass, Electric Guitars
Shawn Duncan – Drums (live)
Adam Hamilton – Drums (studio) & Strings


  • Mark Zagotti

    Mark is a reviewer for Metal Express Radio since 2022. He first discovered the power of Hard Rock in 1985 as a teen when he first listened to Twisted Sister's cassette Stay Hungry. In his teen years, Mark was introduced to bands such as Kiss, Metallica, and enjoying the time that Rock and Metal ruled MTV. His first Heavy Metal concert was Clash of the Titans in 1991, where he experienced the site of a SLAYER mosh pit for the first time. Ever since that moment he has been a METAL HEAD for life. Mark's musical tastes have expanded over the years enjoying music from bands ranging from Ghost, Amorphis, Paradise Lost, the Big 4, Behemoth, and just about everything in between.    

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