CD Reviews

Black Star Riders - 'All Hell Breaks Loose' Hot

Added by James Gaden     July 11, 2013    
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Former members of Thin Lizzy do Phil Lynott proud!

It would be impossible to start any review of the debut Black Star Riders release without paying homage to the much missed genius of Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy. A rite of passage to most rockers of a certain age, Thin Lizzy were the epitome of cool; the rich and bountiful musical legacy they bequeathed the world easily ranking as one of the best ever handed down to posterity.

In the interest of expediency and to cut what could otherwise be a rather long and rambling story short, Black Star Riders are effectively the band who have (until recently) been touring under the Thin Lizzy banner. OK, various ex Lizzy members have been involved in what some have dubbed ‘the world’s greatest Lizzy tribute’ over the years – John Sykes for a long time, Brian Downey, Darren Wharton, etc. – but the one overriding constant has always been guitarist Scott Gorham, and so it remains here.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Keen to release new material but uncertain about how it would play out in the public mind if it was released as Thin Lizzy, the only real solution was to start afresh under a new name...hence the birth of Black Star Riders (named after the gang of outlaws from the ’93 movie ‘Tombstone’, I believe). Joining Gorham in this endeavour are four likeminded souls – vocalist Ricky Warwick (The Almighty), guitarist Damon Johnson (Brother Cane, Alice Cooper), bassist Marco Mendoza (Ted Nugent, Whitesnake, etc.) and drummer Jimmy DeGrasso (Y&T, Dokken, etc.) – a genuine all-star line-up with a formidable reputation and something to prove to the naysayers.

Recorded earlier this year in Los Angeles under the guiding hand of producer Kevin Shirley, ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’ will surprise many people in a lot of ways. Yes, it has that unmistakable Lizzy sound (in essence capturing everything from the classic ‘Jailbreak/Johnny The Fox’ to the heavier ‘Thunder And Lightning’ to the Celtic infused ‘Black Rose’), but rather than just regurgitating what has gone before the band have actually come up with eleven bloody good songs that can only enhance the Lizzy legacy!

By now you’ve probably all heard lead single ‘Bound For Glory’ (sort of ‘Waiting For An Alibi’ and ‘Southbound’ meets Whitesnake’s ‘Guilty Of Love’), which whilst the obvious choice to whet appetites, actually sums up perfectly the positive attitude that underpins the entire project. Kicking off with the sassy, low slung title track ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’, the first thing that struck me (apart from how Lizzy-like it sounded) was just how much vocalist Warwick managed to channel the spirit of Lynott – he’s not a clone, but far from being the weak link I expected, his vocals really enhance the whole experience!

Standout tracks? Difficult one really as I’m still blown away by their achievement as a whole, but early contenders include ‘Valley Of The Stones’, ‘Hey Judas’ and ‘Kingdom Of The Lost’ (although I must stress they’re all great!). Phil would be proud!

Dave Cockett

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