BLACK STAR RIDERS – All Hell Breaks Loose (2013)
In May 2010, original Thin Lizzy member Scott Gorham announced the latest incarnation of the group, whose toured sporadically with various line-ups since 1996. In the middle, they composed new material for a possible release as a Thin Lizzy studio album, but fortunately, the musicians decided to move forward with a new band name; BLACK STAR RIDERS.
And that is a wise decision. I mean, a latent criticism and close inspection would have occurred using the Thin Lizzy moniker; if the material do justice to the band’s pedigree, if the singer is capable to fill Phil Lynott’s shoes, etc.
Gorham & Co. are enough talented and respected to go by themselves, and the result is Black Star Riders’ first album “All Hell Breaks Loose“.
Of course, there are classic Lizzy sounds here but this record drips with the influences that each individual has, and they are also, essentially, influencing themselves.
Apart from Gorham’s recognisable bag of guitar tones, Black Star Riders’ line-up includes drummer Jimmy DeGrasso (Megadeth, Y&T) who also played in Thin Lizzy before, Damon Johnson (Brother Cane, Alice Cooper) coupling on the twin guitar attack, super bass player Marco Mendoza (Whitesnake, Blue Murder), and ex- The Almighty vocalist Ricky Warwick.
With the Irish feeling and great guitar hook of “Bloodshot” and the highlight “Blues Ain’t So Bad” Scott Gorham silences those who have in the past questioned his contribution to the writing for Thin Lizzy. The latter features a haunting bluesy riff -as the title suggests- that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and Warwick’s vocals are strong and emotional.
Warwick at times really sounds like Lynott like in “Kissin The Ground” and “Hey Judas” but this isn’t forced at all, it’s his natural register and the songwriting makes a resemblance to the great Phil’s pen.
Picking favourites is difficult, but the uptempo hard rocker “Valley Of The Stones” is one of my picks, lead by a killer, marvelous twin-guitar work. “Someday Salvation” slows down the things a little, but it’s catchy and compelling.
“Hoodoo Voodoo” has a very effective hook which is infectious and I defy anyone not to tap their feet or nod their head, and the guitar harmony & solo are superb as well.
The driving “Before the War” has a busy rhythm section with DeGrasso blasting the skins and Mendoza round the things via a fat mid-tone bass sound. This chemistry comes into its own on the entire recording.
This digipak edition comes with the bonus track “Right to be Wrong”, a straight ahead rocker with a bouncing feel – well worth paying a bit extra to get this one.
With its bebut, Black Star Riders announce their arrival: a force to be reckoned with, with the Thin Lizzy spirit running through it but clearly establishing their own personality.
This album has virtually everything; hard rockers, a nod to Celtic roots, superb slow (not strictly ballads) bluesy numbers and a great feeling. If you were worried about “All Hell Breaks Loose” damaging the reputation of a much loved band (even given the name change) then you can rest easy as we have here a really strong recording that not only does justice to those bygone days of old but brings it bang up to date.
One of those responsible for this updated sonic delivery is eminent producer Kevin Shirley (Journey, Rush, Mr.Big) turning things into a widescreen sound with a lively vibe.
“All Hell Breaks Loose” rocks, and rocks really good.
01 – All Hell Breaks Loose
02 – Bound For Glory
03 – Kingdom Of The Lost
04 – Bloodshot
05 – Kissin’ The Ground
06 – Hey Judas
07 – Hoodoo Voodoo
08 – Valley Of The Stones
09 – Someday Salvation
10 – Before The War
11 – Blues Ain’t So Bad
12 – Right To Be Wrong (digipak bonus track)
Ricky Warwick (The Almighty) : vocals
Scott Gorham (Thin Lizzy, 21 Guns) : guitars
Damon Johnson (Brother Cane, Alice Cooper) : guitars
Marco Mendoza (Whitesnake, Blue Murder) : bass
Jimmy DeGrasso (Megadeth, Y&T) : drums
BUY IT !