Monday 9 September 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Black Star Riders, "Another State of Grace"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 06/09/2019
Label: Nuclear Blast

This is the best BSR album so far; full of great songs, with a great production and excellent performances.  This band just gets better and better.


“Another State of Grace CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Tonight The Moonlight Let Me Down
2. Another State Of Grace
3. Ain’t The End Of The World
4. Underneath The Afterglow
5. Soldier In The Ghetto
6. Why Do You Love Your Guns?
7. Standing In The Line Of Fire
8. What Will It Take?
9. In The Shadow Of The War Machine
10. Poisoned Heart

The Review:

Black Star Riders are now on album number four. Ricky Warwick and Scott Gorham remain the nucleus of the band and the Thin Lizzy feel to the tracks is still there, but has become less and less pronounced with each successive album.

Hard rock of the highest quality is still the order of the day, and this is the best BSR album so far (and that is saying something!). The opener rocks hard with hooks to spare, the title track rolls out of the speakers like a Lizzy track circa 1976 with Warwick's evocative lyrics about the troubles of America making an admirable foil for some real guitar pyrotechnics through the riffs and solos. New boys Martucci and Szeliga provide accomplished guitar and drum work respectively and have brought an energy and enthusiasm to the band, evident on “Ain't the End of the World”.

Scott Gorham's pedigree runs right the way through the album, but once again there are plenty of Warwick's trademark writing here. “Underneath the Afterglow” could be straight out of The Almighty'sJust Add Life” record from 1996! There are some musical surprises here and there too; Hammond organ can be heard, jew's harp on “Solider in the Ghetto” and acoustic gentleness on “Why Do You Love Your Guns”, which finds Warwick in contemplative mode, the Northern Ireland native seemingly adrift in his adopted US homeland.

The more straightforward hard rockers like “Standing In The Line Of Fire” are all whiskey and retribution and they deliver exactly what you want: tough as leather riffage, smooth as silk choruses and lots of memorable lines over the course of three minutes plus. “What Will It Take” does not quite work for me; a little too middle of the road, perhaps- finely crafted but a little bland, even with the extra dimension of Pearl Aday's sublime vocals. The final two tracks are balls out rock- “In The Shadow Of The War Machine” is catchy and chuggy, highlighting Warwick's gifts as a gifted and uncomplicated songwriter. “Poisoned Heart” is a little more restrained and is a strong finish to a very strong album.

There are not too many hard rock bands around these days and even fewer forging forward with new material on such a regular basis, each album improving on the last. They may even be the last of a dying breed, but Black Star Riders are amongst the very best at what they do. This is the best BSR album so far; full of great songs, with a great production and excellent performances. It builds superbly on the band's previous albums and even outdoes “Heavy Fire”- this band just gets better and better.

“Another State of Grace is available HERE

Band info: facebook