I may get hate mail or worse for saying this, but Appetite For Destruction is beginning to show its age and 25 years of Axl Rose is long enough. We are all bored by the stories of whiskey and impassioned fall-outs, never mind being forever scarred by the horrific Duff McKagan facelift.
We need a solution, and in Nightmare Livin’ the Dream by King Lizard I believe we have found one.
But this isn’t some dubious copy album by a semi-cover band from Croydon. Rather, this is a rebuilding exercise that sharpens the sounds of Appetite on a whetstone of menace and fills the gaps with barrels of gunpowder.
Truth be told, I have not been more excited by a new release for quite some time.
The album opens with an angry guitar chug peppered by strangling pinched-harmonics and a face-full of slow headbang drums. But the intro is nothing compared to the unaffected drive and the sensation of patently apathetic disobedience of the pre-verse lead-in. Come Get Some is a sledgehammer of an opening, and if you aren’t singing along by the time the song comes to its machine-gunned finish then you really need to seek some help.
The challenge to Axl’s crown comes in earnest in track two as Kneel to the King slips and slides just like GNR’s Mr Brownstone. Benefit of doubt given, let’s agree it was by design. Then again, the chorus does spit, “step aside, I’ll be wearing my crown with pride when you kneel to the king,” so maybe I’m onto something here.
The album’s remorselessly up-tempo feel continues in the rasping, I Can’t Be Your Lover before it provides some lifestyle guidance in the shape of Hair of the Dog. And to be fair, I did once swill from a half-drunk can of Guinness complete with a cigarette butt as a “morning after” cure, so the song may have more depth to it than first meets the eye.
I Want You to Want Me is a frightening prospect for any prospective lover, largely due to the scratchy and evil guitar line that has all the quality of a rapacious Norseman. Ironically, the follow-on track is the chorus-driven If It’s a Sin… but then again I might be looking too deeply into this. The title track fills the hallowed seventh position in a patchwork of complex guitar work and chunky bass sections, but it is the reflective ballad Just To Hear You Say It that is the album’s true surprise, lilting along with undulating guitars and a dollop of earnest reflection.
A personal favourite is This Ain’t Love, largely due to the plodding rhythms and sweeping guitar riffs of the bridge section, but the subject matter makes for a good sing-along tune that will no-doubt become a crowd pleaser towards the end of a set. Hard to Get is a filler track that won’t live long in the memory, while the soaring guitar of Down is the only reason to remember this three and a half minute album-ender. But worry not, for the rousing rock and roll breakdown of Waterloo Ratz turns the volume up to eleven and sends the listener into the night with a head-full of rhythm and mischievous intent.
King Lizard exude confidence and having successfully made the transition into their second album, they have every reason to do so. Nightmare Livin’ the Dream is a musical triumph that recaptures what it means to play rock and roll without the inward self-fulfillment favoured by bands thrust upon us by popular culture. Not only is it chock-full of competent musicianship, but also delivers memorable tunes without demanding anything from the listener other than unabashed enjoyment.
Which is all you can ask for really.
- Come Get Some
- Kneel To The King
- I Can’t Be Your Lover
- Hair Of The Dog
- I Want You To Want Me
- If It’s A Sin
- A Nightmare Livin’ The Dream
- Just To Hear You Say It
- This Ain’t Love
- Hard To Get
- Waterloo Ratz