People may or may not know that Black Star Riders are formerly Thin Lizzy. They felt that a name change was necessary when it came to recording new music since any new Thin Lizzy albums would be without legendary front man and vocalist, the late, Phil Lynott. Black Star Riders hit hard with their third album, Heavy Fire.
Black Star Riders open the album solidly with the title track, “Heavy Fire.” The track begins with a blazing series of guitar riffs, solid bass backs them up and Ricky Warwick’s strong vocal delivery comes through immediately. “Heavy Fire” is highlighted by a substantial and bluesy guitar solo that bridges into the final verse. “When the Night Comes In” is the first track that shows the Thin Lizzy influence from Scott Gorham’s guitar tone, that has been a Lizzy mainstay since 1974. The track features a much more upbeat style with faster guitars and a series of female backing vocals. “Dancing with the Wrong Girl” is a standout track on the record. Again, it has the heavy Thin Lizzy flavor but is definitely going to be a crowd pleaser. It has a stylized series of vocals that make the listener want to sing back with heavy, noticeable bass. “Who Rides the Tiger” is a dirty, gritty and grimy song, with full, thick guitars and Ricky’s vocals having a much deeper delivery with loads of attitude, the song is brought to a close by a furious guitar solo. “Cold War Love” is the closes thing you’ll get to a ballad on this record. Pure vocals and balanced guitar playing but the bass playing is featured in the foreground. Don’t get it twisted though because this is not a typical slow, sappy ballad. It still has a heavy feel and features plenty of power. “Testify or Say Goodbye” opens quick with a series of sliding-style guitar work. Ricky’s vocals are highlighted exceptionally well by solid backing vocals. The bridges between choruses feature some sick drum work which really comes to the foreground. “Thinking about You Could Get Me Killed” opens with Robbie Crane’s stellar bass playing and it’s featured dominantly throughout the track. The song also demonstrates the continuity between guitarists Scott Gorham and Damon Johnson. “True Blue Kid” comes across much more like a story. It has that “talking from the heart” monologue feel but wrapped around dense guitars. “Ticket to Rise” builds up as it tells the story of troubled family life. “Ticket to Rise” also have a very strong female presence with the backing vocals throughout the track which I really dug and also gave the end of the song a choir feel. I like my albums to end the same way they begin, fast and aggressive and “Letting Go of Me” is exactly that. It pulls everything together; you can hear and feel it all from the guitars to the bass to the drums, with the vocals coming in over the top to bring the record to a close with everything a hard rock record should be.
Black Star Riders’ Heavy Fire is out now on Nuclear Blast Records.