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All Hell Breaks Loose


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Performer Notes
  • Thin Lizzy guitarist and songwriter Scott Gorham spent years debating whether to record new studio material under the band's storied name. Ultimately, he decided not to out of respect for Phil Lynott's memory. Gorham, vocalist Ricky Warwick (the Almighty), drummer Jimmy DeGrasso (Alice Cooper, Megadeth), bassist Marco Mendoza (Ted Nugent, Whitesnake), and partner/guitarist Damon Johnson (Alice Cooper), are the Black Star Riders -- named for an outlaw gang in the film Tombstone. All but the drummer have played in the re-formed Thin Lizzy, too. Their debut, All Hell Breaks Loose, features a classic hard rock attack, solid songwriting, and great production by Kevin Shirley. The trademark twin guitar sound of TL is ever present, as is their aggressive attack, melodic sensibility, and deep groove consciousness -- Gorham was one of the architects of that sound. Other elements also here are the riff heroics of early Whitesnake, the bluesy dynamics of early Bad Company, and the meaty boogie of early UFO. All of it is contained in solid, narrative songwriting. This is riff-based hard rock with deft hooks and tight musical turns played by raucous guitars, enormous, natural-sounding drums, and a rhythm section which makes it crunch, swagger, and strut. It's sung by a frontman who can convey the weight convincingly. The single "Kingdom of the Lost" melds Lizzy's Black Rose-era Celtic flavor with the punk aesthetic of the Pogues (complete with pennywhistle intro). "Bound for Glory" could be a Lizzy anthem with twin guitars ablaze; it's Warwick's over-the-top tale of desperation to break out and break in. The chorus in "Kissin' the Ground" is infectious, while "Hoodoo Voodoo" is full of nasty chugging guitars and contains a knotty bridge. "Bloodshot," "Valley of the Stones," and set closer "Blues Ain't So Bad" (not a blues), are on the heavier end of the spectrum -- that last one carries more than a hint of Robin Trower's influence. "Hey Judas" weds the gorgeous lyric and twin-guitar sound to a bludgeoning riff and a soulful chorus. The Black Star Riders are deeply entrenched in mid-'70s to early-'80s hard rock, but how could they not be? Most of these cats made that music to begin with. The surprise is that here they fire on all cylinders consistently. While other acts work diligently to re-create the sounds on All Hell Breaks Loose, the Black Star Riders offer them naturally with creativity, heft, and inspiration. ~ Thom Jurek
Professional Reviews
Mojo (Publisher) (p.84) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE is a fiery statement of intent pulled off with aplomb..."
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