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Black Star Riders

All Hell Breaks Loose

Review by Greg Olma

It was always going to be difficult to separate this release from a Thin Lizzy release.  In fact, most of the band toured as Thin Lizzy a few years ago making All Hell Breaks Loose a pseudo Thin Lizzy release.  As the story goes, the band did not want to mess with the Lizzy legacy so they chose a new band name.  Either way, this is as close to a new Thin Lizzy album as we are going to get since founder Phil Lynott is no longer with us.  Ricky Warwick (from The Almighty fame) is now fronting the band and he channels the spirit and vocal phrasing of Lynott better than one might expect.  He also adds a bit of his own unique singing qualities that make him less of a copy-cat and more of a legitimate frontman.  Scott Gorham is the only member in Black Star Riders that was part of the original (or most popular) line-up of Thin Lizzy.  Here, he and Damon Johnson continue the unmistakable twin guitar harmonies that made Thin Lizzy so popular in the 70s and 80s.  The whole disc is filled with updated Lizzy-styled tracks that will sit proudly alongside classics like “Bad Reputation” and “Jailbreak.”  All Hell Breaks Loose is one of the best rock albums released in a quite some time.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
All Hell Breaks Loose

Things start off with a heavier Thin Lizzy style rocker that has a really catchy chorus.  Warwick sounds like Lynott in many places but still manages to fit his own style into the mix.  Style-wise, it is not as metal as material from Thunder and Lightning but is heavier than some of Lizzy’s 70s output.

Bound for Glory

If you close your eyes, you’d swear that this is off of a Thin Lizzy record.  It starts with those great guitar harmonies and has a call and response style chorus that reminds me of material off of Renegade.

Kingdom of the Lost

The Irish roots show on this cut that starts off with a very Irish melody that morphs into a typical Thin Lizzy war rocker.   It reminds me of “Whiskey in the Jar” in that it has that type of sing-along chorus that you might hear in a bar in Ireland.

Bloodshot
Although there are some Lizzy moments in this tune, it is one of the cuts that really sounds a bit more unique and really breaks up the momentum that was started with the very Thin Lizzy sounding material before it.  The guitar work also takes a turn and is more on the metal side of things and less rock.  I wonder if this is the type of material that Gorham and company come up with when they are not trying to channel Thin Lizzy.  If so, it is just as good and sits nicely among the Lizzy sounding material.
Kissin’ The Ground

Warwick really sounds like Lynott at the start of this track.  Like the previous tune, it is more metal and less rock and therefore, less Lizzy sounding.

Hey Judas

This cut sounds like Lynott wrote it himself, from the sound all the way to the lyrics and subject matter.  “Hey Judas” has that classic Lizzy sound and could have been off of one of the classic albums.

Hoodoo Voodoo

The beginning reminds me a little of Nazareth’s “Hair of the Dog” mixed with classic Thin Lizzy.  There are some vocals that are also reminiscent of “Angel of Death.”  If I were to pick the weakest track on offer here, this would be it.  But that being said, their weak tracks are still better than most.

Valley of the Stones

Here is a fast rocker that starts off sounding a little like “Helter Skelter.”  This is another one that has just small touches of Lizzy but has more of a unique sound.

Someday Salvation

The twin lead harmonies make an appearance again at the beginning of this Lizzy rock track.  Again, this is one of those tracks that stands proudly alongside something like “Cowboy Song.”

Before the War
Lynott was always fond of war themes in his lyrics and here the guys continue the pattern with a rocker that has “Thin Lizzy” written all over it.  It is hard not to make comparisons because Warwick does a great Lynott, and Gorham was also part of the songwriting process for Lizzy.  That being said, it is not a copy of other material but more of a stylistic sound made famous by his previous band.
Blues Ain’t So Bad

This is the longest track on the disc and it is one of the best tunes on All Hell Breaks Loose.  It is bluesy as the title would suggest but it is not your traditional blues cut.  It has some great guitar work and does get a little more rock at times.  It is a great way to end the record.

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