BLACK STAR RIDERS DODGE THE HEAVY FIRE WITH THEIR FINEST RELEASE YET
Black Star Riders: ‘Heavy Fire'
Released: Friday 3rd February 2017 (Nuclear Blast)
Words: Johnny Main
It's hard to believe that Black Star Riders recently celebrated their fourth anniversary, and the band continue to grow in popularity. Originally formed as Thin Lizzy back in 2010, they decided to leave behind the Lizzy name and continue under the BSR moniker to go forwards and produce new music. Since then, they've played hundreds of gigs all over the world and produced an impressive back catalogue of original material through their 2013 debut release, 'All Hell Breaks Loose' and the 2015 follow up 'The Killer Instinct'.
'Heavy Fire' is their third full length release and builds on the foundations of the previous two numbers. Spearheaded by Ricky Warwick, the driving force behind nineties rock legends The Almighty, and Scott Gorham, who featured in the Lizzy line-up between 1974-1983, the band seem to hit a new high with every release, and this is no exception. "All killer and no filler" may be an old adage, but it perfectly sums up the 'Heavy Fire' album.
Warwick and guitarist Damon Johnson have a hand in every single track here, with occasional input from Gorham and bass player Robbie Crane, meaning there's a solid set of ten tracks that keep the listener thoroughly entertained. The title track kicks things off and it's a heavy consistent slab of rock with a catchy chorus and a killer guitar riff. If the band are looking for a new set opener on their upcoming tour, this one fits the bill perfectly.
Ex-Megadeth tub thumper Jimmy DeGrasso keeps things going with 'When the Night Comes In' which is another fast-paced number with a helluva catchy chorus before a short guitar solo. The backing vocals have a female voice placed in the mix which gives the chorus a different sound, and I defy any live audience not to get involved in the "whoa whoa" bit towards the end.
'Who Rides The Tiger' is a heavier number that still motors along at affair tempo and is a seething indictment of the madness of America’s gun laws, while retaining a basic faith in humanity's ability to cope with whatever obstacles might hurl at us. Warwick's vocals pulse through the track, which is obviously a subject close to his heart, with his most aggressive vocal performance before the show-stopping guitar solo. A real highlight of the album, this is a true Black Star Riders classic, and no arguments.
'True Blue Kid' has a great guitar intro before Warwick’'s vocal which unusually addresses the audience directly (in an almost 'Sgt Pepper' way) as though he were centre stage at a live gig giving this track a different feel to some than of the others. The guitar solo here's another show-stopper and, like 'Who Rides The Tiger' earlier on, it's sure to be a popular number at gigs.
Warwick once again comes into his own once again with 'Cold War Love', which is a slower paced number that showcases his maturing vocals. His vocal prowess was always good but as time has gone on, his performances have gone from being merely adequate in The Almighty days to being one of the strongest rock voices around at the moment. Another song that's very personal for him, it may not be the most upbeat lyric he’s written but neither does it dwell on the negatives that life sometimes deals to all of us.
'Letting Go Of Me' calls time on the album in fine fashion and it all feels like the album is all over far too quickly. Ten high quality tracks pumped out in just under forty minutes is some feat, but it shows that Black Star Riders have found their stride and it’s probably about time they step up from their current status selling out mid-sized venues to begin playing arenas because they are more than ready to embrace the next stage of their career.
You can see the official lyric video for 'Heavy Fire' here:
'Heavy Fire' Tracklisting:
When The Night Comes In
Dancing with the Wrong Girl
Who Rides The Tiger
Cold War Love
Testify Or Say Goodbye
Thinking About You Could Get Me Killed
True Blue Kid
Ticket to Rise
Letting Go of Me
You can see Black Star Riders live here:
Thursday 2nd March: Tramshed, Cardiff
Friday 3rd March: William Aston Hall, Wrexham
Saturday 4th March: Academy, Dublin
Sunday 5th March: Limelight, Belfast
Tuesday 7th March: Ironworks, Inverness
Wednesday 8th March: O2 ABC, Glasgow
Thursday 9th March: O2 ABC, Glasgow
Friday 10th March: O2 Academy, Newcastle
Saturday 11th March: O2 Academy, Leeds
Sunday 12th March: O2 Ritz, Manchester
Tuesday 14th March: Rock City, Nottingham
Wednesday 15th March: UEA, Norwich
Thursday 16th March: O2 Academy, Bristol
Friday 17th March: O2 Kentish Town Forum, London
Saturday 18th March: O2 Institute, Birmingham
Sunday 19th March: O2 Academy, Bournemouth
Black Star Riders are:
Ricky Warwick – Vocals/Guitar
Scott Gorham – Guitar
Damon Johnson – Guitar
Robbie Crane – Bass Guitar
Jimmy DeGrasso – Drums