Black Star Riders
The Killer Instinct
(Nuclear Blast Records)
Prior to the formation of Black Star Riders in 2013, their debut album All Hell Breaks Loose might have been the most hated album in rock n’ roll. Consisting of Thin Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham and Lizzy touring members Ricky Warwick and Damon Johnson, the band was initially going to release a new album under the Thin Lizzy moniker, but decided to change their name to Black Star Riders instead. The genius part about this move was that they sort of had a built-in audience, but could still do whatever they wanted to musically. Fortunately, what they wanted to do musically is still pretty bad ass.
For their follow up album The Killer Instinct, the band could have really gone in a few different directions with their sound. Thankfully, they chose to take the sound of All Hell Breaks Loose and refine it a little and make a record that stands up next to it perfectly. In fact, there are quite a few parts of the album that I think are way better than the debut, specifically “Sex, Guns & Gasoline” and “Turn In Your Arms” which have some riffs and tribal drum beats that would make any Thin Lizzy fan blush. On those songs and the whole album in particular really, the band have genuinely mastered what a classic rock band should sound like in 2015: a little bit heavy, a lot of bit catchy and all of their songs tell interesting stories.
The cool thing about Black Star Riders though, is that they aren’t a classic rock band. They are just a band of younger dudes who happened to have been in a classic rock band that are making strong, punchy, relevant rock n’ roll. I mean, it doesn’t sound a whole lot like Thin Lizzy, but it isn’t supposed to. It’s also not cheesy and thoughtless radio rock pandering to the Nickelback and Papa Roach crowd. In fact, I’d say that The Killer Instinct is the perfect record for somebody who really likes bands like UFO, Deep Purple or Boston, but can’t stand listening to their new albums. (Brandon Ringo)