Label: Nuclear Blast
Review By: Alan Holloway
Well this is a real turn up for the books, as I wasn’t really expecting that much. The debut album from Black Star Riders was a bit of a mess, being half Thin Lizzy and half something else, a result of the band deciding to ditch the Lizzy moniker half way through. It was a brave move, nonetheless, and signalled a determination to move forwards instead of living in the past.
With ‘The Killer Instinct’ Black Star Riders have released a Black Star Riders album through and through. What this means is that it definitely sounds plenty like you’d imagine Thin Lizzy might if they were around today, but it also has a separate identity, one that shares roots with Lizzy but isn’t shackled by them. Vocalist Rocky Warwick still sounds very like Phil Lynott, but this means he sounds brilliant, so there’s no complaints here. Six string slingers Scott Gorham and Damon Johnson seem to compliment each other well as players and songwriters, and the album gels perfectly throughout. It’s also a whole lot meatier production wise than the debut, and you can really feel the thunderous riffs through your bones.
There’s plenty of high energy tracks on offer, and if you like lead track ‘Killer Instinct’ (there’s an official video on YouTube) you’ll pretty much love the album. It’s led by a typical twin guitar intro that just gets your senses sparkling, bolstered when Warwick’s voice comes growling in. the first five tracks are all golden, with tracks like ‘Charlie I Gotta Go’ and ‘Finest Hour’ invoking the spirit of Lynott and taking it on a wild ride, whilst ‘Soldierstown’ kicks off with a classic Celtic riff. If I’m honest, the slower ‘Blinsided that cuts the album in half doesn’t really do much for me, and the four tracks that follow it are good rather than great, albeit with another great Celtic turn in ‘Turn In your Arms’.
So what we have here is, overall, a very good album. Some tracks are better than others but there are no duffers to be seen (or heard). It certainly sounds like a Black Star Riders album, and for those of you who might be wondering ‘whatever that is’, it’s ‘The Killer Instinct’. Thin Lizzy will never be removed from the band’s DNA, and it’s welcome to stay there as long as they can come up with music like this. God damn, it’s so exciting…