The reason why Scott Gorham decided to release new music under the name BLACK STAR RIDERS was so it couldn’t be put on a shelf next to THIN LIZZY‘s back catalogue and pale in comparison; he wanted it to have legs of their own. So far, so good. Both All Hell Breaks Loose and The Killer Instinct were released to positive reviews in 2013 and 2015 respectively and BLACK STAR RIDERS have never looked back, filling out venues and keeping their former moniker firmly for one-off appearances. Like clockwork, two years have passed since their last record and it’s time for another release; the band’s third album Heavy Fire is hitting stores on Friday and produced by mastermind Nick Raskulinecz (RUSH, STONE SOUR, ALICE IN CHAINS).
It’s always refreshing to see people who, thirty or forty years into their career, still understand that music shouldn’t be created to pay the bills and therefore put all their love and passion into their trade. Gorham fits in that category like your favourite gloves, because Heavy Fire is an absolute belter from start to finish and is odds on to be the feel good rock album of 2017 already. The SABBATH-driven title track moves smoothly into When the Night Comes In which retains the classic THIN LIZZY feel but brings it into a modern and shiny context. The hints of sleaze in Dancing With the Wrong Girl are perfectly accentuated by Ricky Warwick who has proved once again that he’s among rock’s premier singers with his silky pipes and velvet tones whilst Who Rides the Tiger, despite its American radio rock feel, will cause heads to move and has the potential to be the cornerstone of BLACK STAR RIDER‘s live set.
The pace drops with Cold War Love, a curious choice for the middle of the album and it would have probably served better closing the record out, but that’s a foible at best; it loses none of its power and the story about coming back to the front live to fight for love together is told beautifully. The second half of the album picks the tempo back up and is an all out attack of hard rock anthems which will not only delight fans of THIN LIZZY (obviously), but even more contemporary bands like BLACK STONE CHERRY, HALESTORM and ALTER BRIDGE. The rumbling True Blue Kid is probably the highlight but only by a nose; Thinking About You Could Get Me Killed and Ticket to Rise are both brilliant in their own rights as well.
The simple fact is that, whilst Scott Gorham had only the best intentions when he decided to stop releasing music under the THIN LIZZY name, he needn’t have bothered. Three albums in and BLACK STAR RIDERS are continuing the legacy with style and panache, and Heavy Fire will stand against any of THIN LIZZY‘s classic releases. You can feel a certain Mr. P. Lynott smiling on fondly somewhere…
Heavy Fire is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.
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