Black Star Riders – The Killer Instinct
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: February 24, 2014
Attention my fellow music addicts. Due to my utmost love and respect for this band I will be forgoing my usual snappy repartee and witty intro. (Don’t worry it will most likely return for the next review). The reason for this break in my usual flippant rejoinders can be blamed on Black Star Riders and their upcoming sophomore CD The Killer Instinct. Let us just say, the album has resurrected a missing piece in my life that I feared had been forever lost.
You see, through the years of my existence I have on occasion had to bid a tearful adieu (that’s good-bye, for those of you not fluent in French), to bands that would cease to bleed my ears, feed my soul, or understand and comfort me when friends and family would not.
Some groups would be reborn with exceptional new members that would continue their band’s particular crusade and artistic work. Some successfully such as AC/DC, and others not so much, limply hanging onto the past. Still there were other bands we were led to believe would vanish forever into the great abyss. One such band for me was Thin Lizzy. I crushed hard on Lizzy frontman, Phil Lynott, and can still recall that sad day in January 1986 when I had my heart-broken. I mourned the loss as if I had personally known him (which in my own mind I had). He had the voice that could only be the equivalent of fine crystal and aged whiskey. The only way for me to cope easily was to bury feelings that were evoked by Lizzy and Lynott, or so I believed…
While I knew Thin Lizzy had continued on over the years as a touring act, the idea of new music seemed implausible. So much so that when the band evolved into Black Star Riders, I was too skeptical to even listen to their debut, All Hell Breaks Loose. Shame on me. The band features longtime Thin Lizzy legend Scott Gorham on guitar, who has surrounded his own brilliance with the masterful talents of vocalist and bassist Ricky Warwick (The Almighty, Thin Lizzy) former Alice Cooper and Brother Cane guitarist Damon Johnson, and journeyman drummer Jimmy DeGrasso (Alice Cooper, Megadeth, Y&T). Former Ratt and Lynch Mob bassist Robbie Crane recently joined the band in time for The Killer Instinct. Having now listened, joyously, to the new album several times over, I feel blessed and eternally grateful for what these fine musicians have returned to me.
While Black Star Riders kept the Thin Lizzy vibe intact on All Hell Breaks Loose, they also expanded on that sound in fantastic new ways. Though the band continues to evolve its own signature on The Killer Instinct the quintet still embraces its rightful legacy. Case in point—the opening title track sits right up there to hold its own next to notable hits like “Jailbreak” and “The Boys are Back in Town”. That famed signature guitar sound and those vocal tones that made my heart “sigh”; well, for a moment it was just me and Phil all alone again. I applaud Warwick’s ability to channel Lynott while still making each song his own.
“Bullet Blues” shows off a different side of the band, making a statement about the band as its own entity, while “Soldierstown” offers a hint of Social Distortion–Its a wild ride. “Soldierstown” is a sharp contrast to “Charlie I Gotta Go…”, a scary little number as its lyrics illustrate for me (as I interpret them) the point where Charles Manson turns to the dark side. As an interesting side note I noticed they reference the Altamont Speedway, here in California where the Rolling Stones headlined a free concert in 1969 (It turned into a violent and tragic debacle, with Hell’s Angels handling security. The word “fiasco” comes to mind. Read about it.)
Next up is “Sex, Guns and Gasoline”; a wonderful vacation for the mind where if you are not moved to steal a 1962 Caddy and kidnap an armadillo to ride hapless across the desert, well sir, you’re no one I would want to hang out with.
Adding to the overall magnificence of the songs, the band tabbed Nick Raskulinecz to produce (Rush, Mastodon, Deftones, Alice in Chains), whose precision machinations really added depth to the band’s overall sound.
All in all, life is beautiful again and since this is my first review of 2015 if the rest of the year’s musical offerings can match up to this CD then we are in for a hell of a year….!
I give this CD 5 out of 5 pinup/warbird girls (as a nod to the actual album cover…Cheesecake pose girl on a WWII Bomber).
Entity says, not only check it out, but get down on bended knees and pray that all music from now on is this good!!!!