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After months of speculation as to whether Thin Lizzy would release a new studio album, and the announcement, for various reasons, that they would in actual fact be calling themselves Black Star Riders, Scott Gorham and friends have been on the lips of many people. In recent years, I have witnessed two line ups of Thin Lizzy: the John Sykes fronted version (not bad) and the newer, much more authentic, Ricky Warwick version (brilliant), and it is essentially the latter version (minus original Lizzy drummer Brian Downey and keyboardist Darren Wharton) who have released ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’. I do understand that the band want to promote a fresh start, but I cannot look at this as a debut album by a new band, especially as it sounds so much like Lizzy. I’ll probably ruffle a few feathers by saying that I wonder if Thin Lizzy would be quite as revered as they are now if it wasn’t for the very sad and untimely death of Phil Lynott in 1986. Of course, they have written and released some brilliant music and albums over the years, but their studio output was always a little patchy at best. In essence, I am probably one of the few that wouldn’t have minded if this had been released with Thin Lizzy stamped on the front, but I think the passage of time that has passed probably made it near impossible to do that.

So is the album any good? Yes, it is pretty damn good. Not every song hits the mark, but it sure shows that Gorham has surrounded himself with an extremely talented bunch of people and that his passion for playing has not wavered in later years. The title track opens the album; it is a great song and probably sounds the least like Lizzy. Ricky Warwick hits the ground running and his scream of “Alright Scotty” just before the start of the solo is a great moment. First single, ‘Bound For Glory’, is up next and from here on the classic sound of Thin Lizzy takes over the album. Warwick’s sound, phrasing and lyrics are pure Lynott; it is almost frightening how much he sounds like Phil, and the dual guitar work of Gorham and partner in crime Damon Johnson could have graced many of their albums with ease. In fact, sometimes the sound of Black Star Riders is reminiscent of the work Lynott did with Gary Moore. More than ably backed by the excellent rhythm section of bassist Marco Mendoza and drummer Jimmy DeGrasso, this is an excellent listen, especially on a sunny day with beer in hand!

‘All Hell Breaks Loose’ also sounds fantastic, thanks to the superb production and guidance of Kevin Shirley, who just seems to be the man to go to at the moment for rock bands. Capturing ‘that’ sound has worked a treat; all the instruments are clear and ‘live’, the band sound invigorated and passionate and that Irish feel of the music comes to the fore beautifully. Whether you view ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’ as a debut album or a continuation of the Thin Lizzy legacy is completely up to you and I am sure there will be people who will say they shouldn’t have bothered at all under any name but, either way, Black Star Riders have delivered a long overdue reminder that when Lizzy were on form they could deliver some great songs and get you singing along, and isn’t that what good music is all about?
Nuclear Blast
Review by Rick Tilley
24th May 2013
1) All Hell Breaks Loose
2) Bound for Glory
3) Kingdom of the Lost
4) Bloodshot
5) Kissin' the Ground
6) Hey Judas
7) Hoodoo Voodoo
8) Valley of the Stones
9) Someday Salvation
10) Before the War
11) Blues Ain't So Bad
"Warwick’s sound, phrasing and lyrics are pure Lynott; it is almost frightening how much he sounds like Phil..."