Wednesday 11 March 2015

Black Star Riders - 'The Killer Instinct' (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 20/02/2015
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

‘The Killer Instinct’ CD//DD//LP track listing

1. Killer Instinct  3:32
2. Bullet Blues  4:54
3. Finest Hour  3:56
4. Soldierstown  4:49
5. Charlie I Gotta Go  4:13
6. Blindsided  5:59
7. Through The Motions  3:47
8. Sex, Guns & Gasoline  3:59
9. Turn In Your Arms  3:50
10. You Little Liar  7:08

Black Star Riders are

Ricky Warwick | Vocals
Scott Gorham | Guitar
Damon Johnson | Guitar
Robbie Crane | Bass
Jimmy DeGrasso | Drums


Ricky Warwick joining up with Thin Lizzy was a masterstroke- the Northern Irishman proving a perfect fit vocally for the Lizzy touring line-up. When the band morphed into Black Star Riders and shed a few members here and there things changes a little, but not too much. Ultimately, you are getting Thin Lizzy guitars (from Scott Gorham) coupled with Warwick's song writing in the vein of a more restrained version of The Almighty, his band of the 90's. I was and am a huge fan of Warwick's Almighty era and his solo career too, so it pleases me hugely that he is still making music at the top level rather than working as a delivery driver, which he did during his musical hiatus of the late 90's.

BSR's first album together was a good one- very Lizzy in places with trademark harmony guitars and some real Lynott-isms in the vocals. Essentially, “The Killer Instinct” picks up exactly where “All Hell Breaks loose” left off. There is, truthfully, less of Thin Lizzy in there this time around and more of Warwick’s personal writing (at least to my ears). Tracks like ‘Sex, Guns and Gasoline’ are pure late period Almighty (or even early period) while the title track and ‘Bullet Blues’ are much more Lizzy-esque. ‘Soldiertown’ is basically ‘Emerald’ (but not as good, I hasten to add) but the band excel themselves elsewhere with rocking grooves like ‘Through The Motions’.

Over the course of the ten track standard edition you get well played and written hard rock with Thin Lizzy inflections aplenty. It's reassuring to know that the Lizzy legacy is in good hands and that the memory of Phil Lynott is kept in the minds of those linked to his legacy.

The band rebranding themselves as BSR was an excellent move; however good their albums might be, they will most likely not reach the heights of ‘Jailbreak’, ‘Fighting’, ‘Johnny The Fox’, ‘Black Rose’ et al- which in my view are some of the greatest rock albums ever made. That said, if you need convincing of this album's quality, give ‘You Little Liar’ a listen in all its seven minutes of glory. This is superlative modern hard rock, made by veterans who know exactly what they are doing. Oh, and go and see them live, too, as they are very, very good!

Words by: Richard Maw

‘The Killer Instinct’ is available everywhere now

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