Genre: Hard Rock
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
I still recall my friend’s words (owner of an album store in the town I was a student) claiming that Thin Lizzy never had their share on younger audience even though their legacy is more than great, as music was getting everyday more extreme. That was 17-18 years ago and none of us (me and my friend) was able to predict that in the early ‘10s, the Hard Rock of the 70’s would become once again cool for the masses. Many bands especially coming from the glorious North have achieved to revive this feeling and make music in the veins of old school Hard Rock/Heavy Metal vibe that the British shores washed up before 35 – 40 years and so. Black Trip, Horisont, Honeymoon Disease and many more are so skilful and have nothing to be jealous from their idols. Still nothing closer to Phil Lynott’s shadow than the Black Star Riders; after all lead guitarist Scott Gorham was a big part of the Lizzy sound and vocalist’s Ricky Warwick voice is so damn close to Lynott’s tint. Three albums later and almost 7 years after the Thin Lizzy tour, no one remembers the shouting and the yelling from the diehard fans that were upset from the “blasphemy” of using the Thin Lizzy name. To be 100% honest, it is the quality of these 3 albums that made these voices stop, not only the withdrawal of the Lizzy name.
But let’s take things from the start. The artwork cover that brought to my mind the 1967 “Strange Days” album from The Doors, is excellent coming from another era, definitely vintage and yet fresh. The production is rather too clean for a hard Rock release but I believe that the Grammy-winning record producer Nick Raskulinecz may know a bit more than me. Don’t forget that Black Star Riders is a kind of a super group (as Ratt, Alice Cooper, Megadeth, Suicidal Tendencies, the Almighty, Tuff, Lynch Mob, the Vince Neil Band, Y&T are some of the band names its members are coming from) and they behave like one. I mean their songs are made for arenas, stadiums, radio shows, but fortunately have also the aura of the local pub and the smell of cheap alcohol and sweat that Hard Rock demands. For this difficult to manage combo we have to “blame” Ricky Warwick and guitarist Damon Johnson, (not Gorham) as these two have the lion’s share on the compositions. The sound is thick, full of twin-guitar harmonies, brilliant jazzy chords, raging and sometimes folk-referencing riffs, while the songs are full o melodic choruses and have more hooks than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had in a season. The lyrics have every day themes and simple words but 100% suitable. Outstanding moments are: “Heavy Fire”, “When the Night Comes In”, “Cold War Love”, “Testify or Say Goodbye” and “Dancing with the Wrong Girl”.