The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
BLACK STAR RIDERS THE KILLER INSTINCT REVIEW

 

BLACK STAR RIDERS

THE KILLER INSTINCT

NUCLEAR BLAST

FEBRUARY 20 2015

 

 

As most of you will of course know The Black Star Riders are the band featuring Thin Lizzy’s Scott Gorham, and whilst the band also features Ricky Warwick and Damon Johnson from that last incarnation of Thin Lizzy that visited Australia with Kiss in 2013 things have moved on since 2013’s debut ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’ made our Best Of lists that year.


This time around the songs are even better, and the sound that can’t help but still have those classic Thin Lizzy echoes running through it is if anything even more refined. In short the band has taken that Lizzy nucleus and spun it into space creating an album that hasn’t just attained the next level, it’s almost in orbit! As vocalist Ricky Warwick says:“It’s the album that really defines BLACK STAR RIDERS.” Before Guitarist Damon Johnson adds: “This is the band I’ve dreamed about being in all my life, a lean, mean, dirty Rock’n’Roll band. You can’t help but agree.


And the evidence is there in every single track, with the Thin Lizzy name still hanging over the band when they created their first album, you can’t help that the shedding of that name has freed the band up to allow them to build on tradition without feeling obliged to play it safe.


Recorded in 21 days at Rock Falcon studios in Nashville the album’s ten tracks offer a little more width than debut ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’. Though we of course start out with the familiar sounds and huge sonic boom of ‘Killer Instinct’ which bursts upon you with that much loved twin-guitar attack – it’s a rocker very much in the Thin Lizzy mould not least because of Warwick’s Lynott-like phrasing. It’s a song that is both full of the feel of summer and bursting with melody.


‘Bullet Blues’ that follows doesn’t stray too far from that same territory with its drive and swagger; before ‘Finest Hour’ fills out a great opening trifecta with a song that is surely destined to become a ‘live’ staple. Says Warwick: “It’s about my first girlfriend, we were living in Glasgow, we were sixteen, into music, and we’d go to gigs at Barrowlands.” Like all the best songs its construction is deceptively simple relying as it does on three chords, but one of the real highpoints in an album full of great songs. 



It’s the track ‘Soldierstown’ that really highlights the way Warwick and Gorham work together to produce the sort of classic that you could mention in the same breath as Lizzy epics like ‘Emerald’ or ‘Black Rose’ built as it is on Gorham’s huge riff and beautifully painted with Warwick’s storytelling and vocal phrasings. There’s a real Celtic zeal, and almost Irish punk zeal; it’s a song that will nag away at you until you press repeat.


‘Charlie I Gotta Go’ is personal to Warwick, a slow burning, slow-building story that shows that Warwick has plenty in common with the sonic architecture that Lizzy’s Lynott built so well over the years. ‘Blindsided’ is the song that throws up the wild-card – with an acoustic opening and an almost Southern Rock vibe it really opens up the possibilities for future releases.


The remainder of the album is just as memorable: ‘Through the Motions’ is anything but, a great rocker with plenty of Lizzy-esque swagger; whilst ‘Sex, Guns and Gasoline’ evokes memories of late nights in a dirty Rock and Roll club almost anywhere on the Planet.


Closing pair ‘Turn in Your Arms’ and ‘You Little Liar’ couldn’t be more different: the former has an almost Native American refrain and lyrical content; whilst the latter and closer is the sort of laid back Rock and Roll Thin Lizzy did so well, with a modern twist: you can picture this front and centre when the band plays live.
This is an album you will want to put on repeat immediately.   

 

Gorham puts it very simply: “BLACK STAR RIDERS is its own thing. You just have to power ahead and write what you write and not have to think about history.” 

 

This is one of the best albums of any year, and one that will bring a huge smile to any Rock fan’s face…

 

 

by Mark Rockpit

 

BLACK STAR RIDERS - THE KILLER INSTINCT REVIEW - 2015