The last album in the Eugeology series was so neutral to me it was Switzerland. Jon dug it and, of course, so did Eug since it’s his list. We get back to being able to pick a side this week. So, let’s do it!
#6 – All Hell Breaks Loose by Black Star Riders.
Admittedly, I was never big into Thin Lizzy. This was much to Eugene’s chagrin. I know he wanted to slap me on numerous occasions and several times for this fact, alone. I’m not saying I didn’t like them, I just didn’t get into them. There was nothing wrong with them, just not something I got into.
Thin Lizzy certainly had their own sound and style for sure. Phil Lynott had a voice that stood out and you never wondered if it was him or not. Phil, sadly, passed away in 1986 after battling drug and alcohol dependency. The band officially broke up a few years prior, in 1984. Without Phil they couldn’t carry on, right? Well, long-time Thin Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorman reincarnated the band using the likes of John Sykes and several other contributors. In fact, the band still tours as Thin Lizzy sometimes. However, the band thought it was time to record a new album and tour with that, but something just wasn’t right for Thin Lizzy to do so without Phil. So, Gorman announced that the new album was going to be released under a new name and was going to be called Black Star Riders.
So, new material was released and this, All Hell Breaks Loose, is the debut album for that incarnation of the band. While the name is new and the songs are new, there’s no mistaking who these fine musicians are writing for and who they’re channeling in their writing: Thin Lizzy’s fans and Phil Lynott. It is so modern Thin Lizzy. And for that, I commend them. They did right by changing the name and I think they definitely did right by not changing what buttered their bread. Ricky Warwick, also an Irishman, just like Lynott, sounds remarkably like the original voice of the band.
Not every song sounds like Lizzy, though. The title (and opening track) song, to me, is a bit more modern and rocking. The same for “Valley of the Stones.” Great riffs throughout the album. The harmonies are impeccable and are slightly left of center when it comes to the interval. It’s not always the same harmonious recipe, they switch it up, but again, just like Lizzy. Now, don’t get me wrong, even the songs that I don’t get a full dose of Lizzy, I get sprinkles here and there. I’m not harping on that and I apologize if I am repetitive, but I find it quite enjoyable, regardless.
The phrasings of the vocals, the timbre, the melody lines, it’s familiar yet fresh. You suspect you’ve heard this style before and if you’re heard this album, of course you have heard that style. But, it will bring their roots through. The lyrics of the songs are bright and hopeful, yet still quite rock and roll. There’s hints of other genres, too, though. I thought “Before the War” was The Clash when I first heard it. Of course that didn’t last long. It got rocked up. I can’t really pick a favorite song on this, I think they’re all fantastic, and for different reasons. There’s a lot of hair-bandish riffs and solos, which are always okay with me. They’re tasteful and that’s what matters.
The band (on this album), really, is a supergroup. Each member has experience with other big names. Scott Gorham, of course, is the backbone being he has been with Lizzy from very early on. Ricky Warwick sang for The Almighty for a while and has done backing vocals with Def Leppard because he and Lep’s frontman, Joe Elliott, are chums. Guitarist Damon Johnson was co-founder of the 90s hard rock band, Brother Cane and later played with Alice Cooper. Drummer Jimmy DeGrasso has played with David Lee Roth, Ozzy, White Lion, Suicidal Tendencies and Megadeth. Bass player Marco Mendoza has played with Whitesnake and I saw him live when he was playing with Ted Nugent (yeah, I can’t stand the Nug, but Marco was great) when he opened for KISS. Their performances on this album was raw, yet near-flawless.
I recommend you pick this up, stream it, download it, purchase it, everything shy of stealing it, as it’s a fantastic rock record and it’s a very fitting tribute to Phil Lynott and the legacy of Thin Lizzy. I really want to read Eug’s assessment and Jon’s will be interesting, as well. He’s always the wild card; just the way it should be.What about you, Dear Reader, are you familiar with this? Once you hear it, I’d like to hear/read your thoughts on it.
Thank you Eugene for introducing it to us.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the fools. When all hell breaks loose. All hell breaks loose. I walk a murder mile wearing deadman’s shoes. When all hells breaks loose. All hell breaks loose.” – “All Hell Breaks Loose” (Warwick, Johnson, Gorham, Mendoza, Wharton)