Black Star Riders
ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE
For so many people, it's a constant complaint when bands with one or two original members continue on with a band name instead of forming a brand new project. The topic of "how many original members makes a band a band" has been debated on literally every rock music show that's existed over the last 20 years, and there's never been a definitive answer to any of it. For some people, if there's one original guy then it's OK to use the established name. For others, nothing short of all original members qualifies. For others, it's a question of which original member is there. Across the board, there's a lot of indecision regarding just how many members of a band make that band still exist. A couple of years ago, guitarist Scott Gorham reformed and toured a "new" Thin Lizzy comprised of himself and, pretty much, all new players. Having seen them, I will give them a lot of credit for carrying on not only the sound of Thin Lizzy, but the spirit of the band with full respect paid to the heart and soul of the original band, Phil Lynott. When they decided to record a new studio album, they could easily have chosen the easy, better selling idea to call it Thin Lizzy. Instead, they chose a new band name and chose to leave the integrity of the original band intact. So, first and foremost, bravo to them for that tough move that was PROBABLY not well received by their record company.
Alas, they didn't call the band Thin Lizzy though. They called it Black Star Riders. Their debut ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE could easily be argued for though to be called Thin Lizzy. The album is a very respectful, strong effort that would probably please most fans of the original band without many complaining that it was defaming the original legacy. In short, it just sounds like Thin Lizzy. That comes, for the most part, from the vocals of the former lead vocalist of The Almighty, Ricky Warwick. In short, Warwick is very much a clone of Lynott in both vocal sound and in all of his vocal inflections. He's truly great. Songs like "Valley Of The Stones" and "Bound For Glory" find Warwick in full on Lynott impression mode, and it works here. The biggest issue these guys could ever have would be if Warwick sounded like a karaoke singer. He does not. He sounds like the lead vocalist of Thin Lizzy (or in this case Black Star Riders), and it just works. Because of this, the whole band works around him.
That said though, it's the heritage member of the band that make things work so well. Scott Gorham may be the elder statesman of the band, but he still brings that classic flair that made the old band such a standout. His solos on "All Hell Breaks Loose" are solid, as is the bouncy rhythm he brings to songs like "Someday Salvation". Gorham has surrounded himself with an all star lineup comprised of Damon Johnson, Jimmy DeGrasso and Marco Mendoza; all who are well respected players over the last 30 years. As a band, they are strong, classic sounding and definitely worthy of the name they have chosen not to use.
PITRIFF RATING - 82/100 - While there are a few songs that kind of drag a little ("Before The War"), ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE is a great collection of songs that will almost certainly please any Thin Lizzy fan, and maybe some that know nothing about that band as well. Strong songwriting, solid performances and a nod to the old school, Black Star Riders have produced a very solid disc.