Review by Mike Paradine
Artist: BLACK STAR RIDERS
Album: All Hell Breaks Loose
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: 27th May 2013
1. “All Hell Breaks Loose”
2. “Bound for Glory”
3. “Kingdom of the Lost”
5. “Kissin’ the Ground”
6. “Hey Judas”
7. “Hoodoo Voodoo”
8. “Valley of the Stones”
9. “Someday Salvation”
10. “Before the War”
11. “Blues Ain’t So Bad”
The party has been over now for quite a long time. The rain outside is coming down in buckets and I’m waiting impatiently for my ride to arrive. Soon I recognize the vehicle that pulls up outside and it’s the same old vehicle that I’m used to riding in but with one difference, there is a new driver. His almighty presence has me startled a bit but I relax in the back seat and I’ll soon see if I’m in capable hands. On my trip home, I’ll have to venture through 11 neighborhoods and I’m starting to feel my trepidation.
As we start out, we come to our first visit, “ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE”. Here we have an area that shows that this song forges its own territory. Cool bass line and guitars that have a certain swagger to them, compliments the simple but perfectly played, drum beats. It’s a song that dares you to say something derogatory just so that it can punch you in the face and show you that they are still a force to be reckoned with.
Driving straightforward, we head into, “BOUND FOR GLORY”. As soon I hear the first double lead guitar riffs, I soon know we’re in familiar territory. This brings me back to Thin Lizzy’s “Black Rose” album. Vocalist Ricky Warwick channels founder Phil Lynott’s singing style and tone and one can see a broad smile on Phil’s face. Lyrically he even dusts off some of Phil’s words and incorporates it here. An excellent song, one that I had imagined to hear even before partaking on this trip. Upbeat and instantly likeable, a perfect song for the evolution of Thin Lizzy.
Continuing on our journey, we make a left and enter a neighborhood splashed with old Celtic influences not heard since early Thin Lizzy albums. Opening with old Irish folk music, “KINGDOM OF THE LOST” showcases Lizzy’s trademark guitar harmonies. Once again, Warwick is possessed by Lynott’s ghost and delivers the goods. Another great and memorable track that eases my fear that, somehow, we may get lost along the way.
“BLOODSHOT” time travels back to the sound and grittiness of the “Bad Reputation” album. Continuing with the Lynott-esque vocal scheme and lyrics, it is another great step into the future of the band. “KISSIN” THE GROUND” has one foot in the past and one in the present. A perfect blend on the new and old. The guitar solo is classic Lizzy, but Ricky’s vocals have a more modern approach that gives the song a harder edge. It works well!!!
I’m half way home and so far this drive has been a most pleasant one. I soon find out that it gets better. “HEY JUDAS” combines the sounds of “The Black Rose” and “Bad Reputation” albums. Pure genius!!! An infectious song that I can see being on FM-radio. Not that really means anything anymore but it has that instant likeability to it that many people can relate to! It delivers a punch, a good catchy chorus and a twin guitar solo that flies right off the “Chinatown” record and that what makes this a true Thin Lizzy song.
Smooth sailing but we now start to hit a few bumps in the road in the song “HOODOO VOODOO”. In the past, most bands that had a song with the word voodoo in it, sucked. Though the song itself isn’t bad, the chorus is. It’s probably the most un-Thin Lizzy song on the album, which isn’t a bad thing but the chorus just doesn’t cut it.
Now the driver speeds up a bit and gives us “VALLEY OF THE STONES” a dirty, fast paced rocker that may be more reminiscent of Warwick’s former band, The Almighty but mixed with a dose of Lizzy. A very cool guitar solo stands out on this track along with that amazing dual guitar riff.
“SOMEDAY SALVATION” is that odd song that Thin Lizzy used to have such as “Dancing in the Moonlight” or “Southbound”. Now those two songs, regardless whether they fit with the rest of the album or not, were good songs. Not the case here. It seems disconnected from the overall album. Though this song is a danceable type of song, I just can’t get into it. Too much of a “happy” song along with the “na na na’s” in the background vocals.
On most of the album, there isn’t much going on in the drum department. Nothing bad happening but nothing to write home about either. This changes on “BEFORE THE WAR”. A nice rolling snare drum behind Ricky’s vocals but a nice change of drum beats about half way into the song before the guitar solo. Like the first song, it has personality all its own. This is a true Black Star Riders song.
Almost home, I have one more neighborhood to pass trough and that is “BLUES AIN”T SO BAD”. It’s a slinky, slow moving song that builds to some cool guitar work. Not out front like much of the album but enjoyable nether the less.
Some these neighborhoods have similarities, while some are very different. But they do have one thing in common, they all have that gritty feel to them so I felt very comfortable traveling through them.
The album itself is what I hoped for and a bit more. They’ve kept Phil’s legacy alive and they continue to build on that but they also threw in originality that they need to move forward. I am glad that they didn’t continue under the Thin Lizzy name but I wish they would have used a song title or a phrase from one of Lizzys numerous songs just to still have that connection. Just a minor thing on my part. They know what they have and I hope they continue in this direction. It’s the same car but a different driver. Everyone knows that it would have been impossible to replace Phil but the choice of Rick Warwick was a great one. He still brings that snotty, get ready for a fight attitude that is needed for this band. He also brings a more youthful exuberance that brings excitement to the band. If you’re looking for an updated, modern place to live, this ain’t it. But if you’re like most people, there’s no place like home.
Official website: http://blackstarriders.com/
Ricky Warwick – Vocals
Damon Johnson – Guitar
Scott Gorham – Guitar
Marco Mendoza –Bass
Jimmy Degrasso – Drums