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Black Star Riders | All Hell Breaks Loose

by Nikiforos Skoumas
– Columnist —

Black Star Riders – All Hell Breaks LooseIn one form or another the reunited Thin Lizzy have been touring or playing live for the past fifteen years. It was 1996 when John Sykes decided to bring back the latest Thunder & Lighting formation of the band to pay tribute to the music of Phil Lynott.

By 2011 guitarist Scott Gorham took charge of the reformed Thin Lizzy with the vision of moving away from its tribute nature into a full-time recording and performing outfit.

For the purpose of a new studio album the group was renamed to Black Star Riders; Gorham is the only authentic Lizzy member in this latest incarnation, featuring guitarist Damon Johnson, bassist Marco Mendoza, drummer Jimmy DeGrasso and Irish vocalist Ricky Warwick. Their debut release All Hell Breaks Loose delivers on the promise of a Lizzy-sounding all-original studio album.

The basic components that make this effort believable are primarily the twin guitar formation very much in line with the late-‘70s/early-‘80s melodic style of Thin Lizzy, Ricky’s singing is similar to Lynott’s but most important are the narrative lyrics. The Riders’ songwriting playbook features the same persona’s and storylines as the ones Phil used to craft his tunes, effectively capturing the essence of the original band.

Indeed, Black Star Riders do recreate Phil Lynott’s vision though unfortunately not the very best of Thin Lizzy. To be absolutely critical, the passionate Lizzy-Lynott fan will feel the absence of a masterpiece tune in the style of “Still in Love with You,” “Black Rose,” “Southbound” or “Warriors.” Having said that, all the members of BSR are used to filling the shoes of iconic players in their respective careers so when provided with a well-laid musical path — being the case here — they deliver.

Just as important is the fact that Gorham opted for the costly production services of Kevin Shirley who is hired systematically by such heavyweights as Journey and Iron Maiden. As most are aware for Shirley there is no one particular way of producing an album; he seems to be doing a lot of research to the point where he is capable of perfectly emulating the trademark sound of each band. And therein lies the success of Black Star Riders; the vintage twin guitar melodies, the rocking bass lines, the unconventional drum grooves make for a distinct rock proposition in 2013 which is an accomplishment in itself, let alone paying tribute to one of the most iconic figures in rock.

Genre: Melodic Hard Rock

Line up:
Ricky Warwick – Vocals
Scott Gorham – Guitar
Damon Johnson – Guitar
Marco Mendoza – Bass
Jimmy DeGrasso – Drums

Track List:
1. All Hell Breaks Loose
2. Bound For Glory
3. Kingdom Of The Lost
4. Bloodshot
5. Kissin’ The Ground
6. Hey Judas
7. Hoodoo Voodoo
8. Valley Of The Stones
9. Someday Salvation
10. Before The War
11. Blues Ain’t So Bad

Label: Nuclear Blast Entertainment

Hardrock Haven rating: 8/10