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Spitfire (2005)
Rating: 9/10

After the sensational self-titled debut album in 2001, Los Angeles glam metal band Beautiful Creatures made a welcome return to the fray with another criminally underrated record. Deuce was another of those albums that made no impact whatsoever on the music scene despite boasting 13 stomping classics (15 on some versions – two being Japanese bonus tracks).

Fronted by Joe Lesté, who is better known for his work with Bang Tango, the band also featured Mark Simpson and Anthony Focx on guitar, Kenny Kweens on bass and Timmy Russell on drums; although several other additional musicians are also listed.

Maybe this was the overall problem? The fact that Beautiful Creatures were never a settled band, always seemingly on hiatus, while at times defunct, and yet when in full throttle producing some of the best modern hard rock I’ve ever experienced.

For example, album opener ‘Anyone’ is a real tour de force of crunching glam metal that boasts a killer rolling riff and pounding drum while Lesté provides that gravelled vocal sneer; pure attitude in a can. ‘Freedom’ is equally as riveting with its dense riff and soaring vocal – one part Mötley Crüe in its swagger, another part Guns N’ Roses as it sways.

The band also knows how to vary the shades too. Bonus track ‘I Still Miss You’ is a vibrant hair metal ballad, years out of time, and yet wondrous as it breezes on a gentle guitar, and Joe’s subtle rasp. ‘I Won’t Be The One’ is equally majestic; the guitar is a mere smattering as the track strolls by in the sunlight wearing its shades.

Another bonus track, ‘Starr Cross’, follows suit as another scarf waver, but it’s when the band get down ’n’ dirty that they really shine, blending dark, sleazy riffs with those deep, almost guttural vocals, particularly on the searing hot ‘Empty’, with its scything riff and clattering drums. While ‘Straight To Hell’ is the ripper of the album; a thrashing, manic three-minute rock out that sees Lesté adopt a more violent yelp.

Some may argue that Deuce lacks the cutting edge of the debut record, with some fans arguing that since the departure of DJ Ashba (Guns N’ Roses / Sixx:A.M. / ex-BulletBoys) the heart has been ripped out, but I completely disagree. A song like ‘Unforgiven’ epitomises the spirit of the band, and proves that when on track they are as good as anyone else. This song also sums up the varying mood swings of the album, weaving together a glitzy classic rock feel with a sleazy, and at times subtle edge, all the while slapping the face with a killer riff or two.

Sadly, time hasn’t been kind to Beautiful Creatures, and two albums in more than a decade just isn’t good enough, although their career has been interrupted by illness, line-up changes and other commitments. Even so, the two albums the band have produced have been golden nuggets; real glam rock outings boasting consistently brilliant songs.

Like so many other cool bands, I have a feeling this may be the last we see of Beautiful Creatures, but I hope I’m wrong. The biggest tragedy of all is that their brace of records will simply fizzle away without any type of recognition, but if you’re a fan of heavy music with attitude then try to track down these albums. Alternatively, check out The Last Vegas, who for me are just as good, if not better.

Neil Arnold

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