BLACK STAR RIDERS - Heavy Fire
March 13, 2017, a year ago
Third album from the band otherwise known as Thin Lizzy for special occasions, Heavy Fire is the Black Star Riders' heaviest album to date and darker around the edges compared to the band's previous outings. That isn't to say the quintet has abandoned the trademark Thin Lizzy feel-good rock sound that gave them legs - not by a long shot - but Heavy Fire is a much needed next step away from the comfort zone that branded them a nostalgia act when they surfaced in 2012. The lead-off title track, for example, smacks of frontman Ricky Warwick's former band The Almighty, who were often seen as a crushing rock version of Motörhead during their rise from the late '80s into late '90s. It's a theme revisited on "Who Rides The Tiger" and "Thinking About You Could Get Me Killed", although Warwick sensibly holds back on his Almighty voice for a smoother Lynott-esque delivery. And speaking of the mighty Phil, nobody can be faulted for expecting to hear his voice on "When The Night Comes In", "Testify Or Say Goodbye", "Letting Go Of Me" and "Dancing With The Wrong Girl" when the music kicks in, all four songs paying tribute to Thin Lizzy's timeless legacy.
Interestingly, Thin Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham is only credited with co-writing two songs on Heavy Fire, yet the Thin Lizzy influences are in-your-face apparent when they surface. It speaks volumes of Gorham having a trademark you-can-hear-it-from-a-thousand-miles-away sound, as well as the weight of Lizzy worship carried by Warwick and guitarist Damon Johnson.
For a band that is technically working under the banner of "everything old is new again" the Black Star Riders have delivered a '70s-kissed record that is completely relevant in 2017. Compare Heavy Fire to present day rock radio fodder - or worse, the wishful Lizzy thinking tripe of Bon Jovi's latest album This House Is Not For Sale - and Black Star Riders stand head and shoulders above the clutter. More power to them.