BLACK STAR RIDERS – HEAVY FIRE
Release: Feb 03, 2017
℗ 2017 Nuclear Blast Entertainment
- Heavy Fire
- When the Night Comes In
- Dancing with the Wrong Girl
- Who Rides the Tiger
- Cold War Love
- Testify or Say Goodbye
- Thinking About You Could Get Me Killed
- True Blue Kid
- Ticket to Rise
- Letting Go of Me
I can feel it. Much like the feeling one experiences pre-show when a wall of Marshall amps are being wound up to ten and the hair stands up on the back of your neck. I can somehow sense it as I open the third album from Black Star Riders. Could it possibly be true? The first album review of the year and already a contender for 2017’s finest?
Perhaps this feeling is simply the result of personal eager anticipation. We have, after all, already experienced the sensational first album from Black Star Riders in All Hell Breaks Loose, proving that none of the bands heritage had been shed in the name of a new existence. That the groups strengths were intact and nothing had been lost to time. The Killer Instinct provided proof that the former was no coincidence and this is not Thin Lizzy, but none of the appeal of that heritage had been left to the annals of musical history. Or was it’s just me? Perhaps all my self-inflicted and repeated exposure to the first two albums has caused an unnecessary and unjustifiable excitement and it is a mistake to attempt an impartial review. No. After a little time taken to consider and tease myself with repeated nudging of the Play button, I am convinced that a band capable of producing this much excitement with their collective experience, knowledge, and commitment to a cause are deserving of unbridled glee at the other end. We are talking about Ricky Warwick, Scott Gorham, Damon Johnson, Jimmy DeGrasso and Robbie Crane. We are also listening to the second collaboration with producer Nick Raskulinecz and considering his body of work, what could possibly go wrong. Well, nothing. And am I listening to a 2017 years’ finest contender? Well, in a word…Yes! This is something very special indeed. Black Star Riders take things to a whole new level of sensational. This is heavy rock at its finest. Diverse, thrilling and spectacular. This is Black Star Riders setting the bar somewhere in the stratosphere.
If it is possible for me to attempt to enthusiasm to one side, the sequencing was the most outstanding consideration on first listening. This album took me on a thorough journey akin to a concert experience. Black Star Riders brought me into the journey brilliantly with the title track. That amazing feeling of satisfaction that this is indeed the Black Star Riders sound, complete and concise. Then When The Night Comes In takes your breath for a moment and fills you nostalgic delight coupled with the excitement that this is indeed the current sound, but with the band legacy firmly entwined. I honestly could not resist the temptation to play this fantastic track over and over, visualizing an opportunity to see Black Star Riders performing this live. Every element is simply superb and so astonishing in its appeal. I remember on first listening, feeling fearful that a downside would follow the tremendously excited high resulting from the musical, lyrical and vocal appeal of When The Night Comes In. That downside never arrived. What did arrive was a realisation that this is an album of tremendous depth and a genuinely superb collection. Three albums in and we get this? Following on from All Hell Breaks Loose and The Killer Instinct, I freely admit to expecting something very special, but I was genuinely taken aback by the obvious careful development and genuine care the group have put into this work. It is almost as though the metaphorical shackles of prior labeling have been shaken loose and through recording and performing, Black Star Riders are charging forward as their own identity. I have repeatedly considered while writing and listening, omitting all references to Thin Lizzy. Although a significant element in the groups genealogy, Black Star Riders are free to enhance and refine their tremendous skills as the separate entity and genuine article. Consider the tremendous sound of Dancing With The Wrong Girl. My own thoughts aside, I cannot ignore a comment made by my fourteen-year-old son who visits me briefly to remark “I love this track. Black Star Riders have such a distinct quality’. That comment caused careful consideration regarding the bands direction and what they are in the process of creating. With genuine rock and roll of this magnitude, quality and widespread appeal, the appetite of their ever growing and already, heaving mass of fans is going to become insatiable. I mean really? When you listen to Who Rides The Tiger and Ticket To Rise I’m sure you will agree this is pure, precise and perfect heavy rock we are experiencing. The contribution of the backing singers give the latter an additional and tremendously soulful dimension. In my opinion, Cold War Love, Testify Or Say Goodbye and a little later, True Blue Kid were perfectly sequenced and demonstrative of what amazing artists make up Black Star Riders and what diversity is possible within an established signature sound.
Letting Go Of Me brings this collection to a superb finale, leaving the listener so very hungry for more. Like a sensational live show, you just don’t want it to end. To my delight and I’m sure the satisfaction to great music lovers across the globe, we don’t have to go home or kiss tomorrow goodbye. We simply restart this monumentally brilliant album and enjoy again and again.
I don’t know if there was ever need for Black Star Riders to shuffle off a Thin Lizzy branding. Maybe nobody knows, even the band members themselves. What I do know is that this is Black Star Riders and this is their third album. I do know I loved the first, revered the second and was, quite appropriately, blown away with Heavy Fire. This is truly a thrilling rollercoaster of a ride with ‘definitive yardstick’ stamped all over it.