Can a leopard change its spots? No, but if you are Thin Lizzy you can change your name and pump out a really good classic rock album that pays homage to the band you really are.
Black Star Riders new album All Hell Breaks Loose is the project that arose from Thin Lizzy recording some demos but when some concerns were raised by interested parties it was decided that a name change was in order.
What resulted from that name change is a great set of songs that doesn’t try to be Thin Lizzy, but it definitely gives a pretty good head banging session towards the classic band. Ricky Warwick has a sense of Phil Lynott in his voice that surprised the hell out of me when the leadoff single was released in March of this year. If you listen to Bound for Glory and you didn’t know, you would have to listen to the end to find out if the DJ was going to confirm who was actually singing the song.
Not all of the album is Lizzyesque, title track, All Hell Breaks Loose is a moody rocker that harkens back to some kind of western (Warwick is to reportedly have named the band after the gang in the 1993 film Tombstone). Whilst Lizzy had that outlaw feel to some of their material, this track seems somewhat independent of that style.
The third track on this album Kingdom of the Lost is one that I can decide if it’s an homage to one of Lizzy’s most well-known songs (Whiskey in the Jar) or a tribute to Lynott’s Irish heritage. One thing I do know is if this track is played at a gig, then there will be crazy drunk men dancing ‘Irish Jigs’ all over the venue.
The rest of the album is a lesson to all rock bands out there that it is possible to write produce and release material that is well played and have lyrics that are fun and interesting to listen to. For the most part you don’t have to scratch around looking at lyric sheets to get the meaning; it’s all there in the music.
Hey Judas (track 5), a song that harkens back to something that I could imagine sped up a little and produced by Warwick’s band The Almighty. It would have definitely fit on Soul Destruction. I guess one could say the influence of Thin Lizzy on Warwick is obvious in hindsight when you look back on their output.
All in all, All Hell Breaks Loose by Black Star Riders is a nice tip of the hat to what bought the band together in the first place, but it really does stand on its own and can justifiably be proud to have a place in my record collection and will probably get regular spins (if that’s possible in an MP3 world!!!)