Black Star Riders – The Killer Instinct (Nuclear Blast 2015)

Album of the year! God damn this album is good. I’ll admit I wasn’t completely sold on their first record. It was good, but not great. There was too much of a dichotomy between wanting to keep a familiarity with Lizzy and creating something new. It just didn’t work out that well. Now, on this second record, they have really gotten themselves into a great sound and songwriting style. Many aspects have been kept from the glories of Thin Lizzy, and if Lizzy is not for you than neither is this band. The bluesy guitars, deep baritone vocals, the powerful groovy bottom, the seventies are truly alive in the soundscape.

From the very first note off of the opener, Killer Instinct, I felt an instant recognition. Something safe and warm crept over me and felt snugly for the rest of my maiden voyage with the new record. On their debut it was kind of like to sides struggling to win the songwriting, as hinted to above, this is completely gone now. Ricks voice is reminiscent of Lynotts, but I would consider it more of an homage to him than a rip off.

The title track is a killer opener. It has a great riff and a great chorus. Second track Bullet Blues is one of my favorites on the record. It has this rolling momentum that drives the song and makes me happy.

Finest Hour is a kind of bland number on this record, it would have been a stand out track on the debut, but this record is so good that Finest Hour seems rather pedestrian, to say it in a snooty way. Soldier Town makes for a great foot tapper: A fine riff with a nice groovy beat.

I need to pause here a bit to give credit too DeGrasso. He is a great drummer, solid. He might not be the most adventures drummer in the world, but he’s got groove and feeling to his playing that I’ve appreciated since his Megadeth days. Moving on …

Charlie I Gotta Go just might be one of the best songs I’ve heard in quite some time. I simply love it. You know that feeling when something is so good that you feel unable to describe just have good it is? That is how good this song is. Sex, Guns and Gasoline Should also be given an ear, because it’s also great. Especially the chorus, you can’t help but sing along.

Turn In Your Arms is the most Lizzy sounding track on the album, me thinks Mr. Gorham had more than one finger in the writing process. The final track, You Little Liar, is the longest track of the album. It kind of melted away from me. It’s one of those comfortable songs that allow you to just slip away from everything and be totally emerged in rock n roll greatness.

This album has got it all: Great guitars, great melodies, great twin guitar stints, solid bass lines and heavy, groovy bottom. Producer Nick Raskulinecz has done a great job keeping to a organic, old school hard rock sound. The album sounds great, both the digital and the vinyl. The artwork and imagery is in the same ww2 style as the debut and looks great.

In conclusion there is not a single weak track on here and most of the songs are reminiscent of Thin Lizzy and to some degree of Cream (or the heavier side of any Clapton project). Had this album been released in 1977, it would be considered a classic and Bullet Blues and Charlie I Gotta Go would’ve had heavy airplay on classic rock radio. But, since it’s released now in 2015 and radio seems to be controlled by people who truly believe that rock died with Elvis in ’77, I suspect this album won’t get much airtime, sadly.

I’ll say it one more time just to get the point across: ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2015!

Recommended downloads: Charlie I Gotta Go, Bullet Blues, Sex, Guns and Gasolin, The Killer Instinct

Rating 10/10

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