Monday, February 6, 2017

Black Star Riders- Heavy Fire album review

 Black Star Riders - Heavy Fire
Black Star Riders
Heavy Fire
Rating: ****

Hard rock band Black Star Riders are back with their third studio album. The album, Heavy Fire, is the follow up to 2015’s The Killer Instinct. The band, who are fronted by Ricky Warwick, are a spin off band of the reunited Thin Lizzy. While guitarist Scott Gorham is the only member who played in the band’s first run with the late Phil Lynott, the other members are well versed in Lizzy songs. All through last year in 2016, Warwick and Gorham toured under the Lizzy name celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Jailbreak album- as well as honoring their leader Phil Lynott 30 years after his death. With the Thin Lizzy shows completed, the focus is now on Heavy Fire. After listening to the album a couple of times, it’s safe to say this is yet another great album from Black Star Riders.

            The album kicks off with the chugging sways of the title track. The band are in fine form, firing on all cylinders by the chorus. Warwick gives an impressive vocal performance as he is able to phrase the wordy lyrics- a gift that the late Phil Lynott had. If it could be compared to another song- think of fast phrasing from Lynott in the Lizzy classic “It’s Only Money.” The album’s lead single, “When The Night Comes In,” is different from the previous lead singles. While it sounds like the traditional Lizzy song with sweet guitar harmonies, the song utilizes in female backup singers during the chorus and bridge- giving the song a soulful feel. With The Killer Instinct, the band maintained the Thin Lizzy sound but it also sounded like they were trying to make a sound for themselves. With Heavy Fire, the songs lean more towards the Lizzy sound. Examples include “Who Rides The Tiger” and “Testify or Say Goodbye.” The former is a tough hard-hitting rocker while the latter is wonderfully melodic as Gorham and Damon Johnson work that dual lead guitar sound. Many of the songs here stay true to what Lynott loved to write about such as war (“True Blue Kid”), hopeless romantics (“Dancing With the Wrong Girl”) or both (“Cold War Love”). While Warwick, Gorham and Johnson get to showcase their talents the most, bassist Robbie Crane and drummer Jimmy DeGrasso still get to shine. DeGrasso drums his heart out on “Dancing With The Wrong Girl” while Crane plays the prowling bass line on “Thinking About You Could Get Me Killed.” All five members get to shine one last time on the album’s energetic closer “Letting Go of Me.”

            Heavy Fire is simply another hard rocking album from Black Star Riders. When put against All Hell Breaks Loose and The Killer Instinct, you can’t really compare them by much: these three albums have all been consistent from beginning to end. If you’re new to the band but loved Thin Lizzy back in the day, I’d say pick up this album and their other two. If they’ve got a fourth album in them, I say bring it on.

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