BLACK STAR RIDERS – Heavy Fire (Album Review)


Black Star Riders - Heavy Fire - Decibel GeekI had a girlfriend once who wanted to celebrate every anniversary. The first time we saw a movie. First time we kissed. First time we made love. I didn’t buy into it. Firstly, I’m not an anniversary type of guy, usually. But this is one anniversary worth celebrating. Irish rockers Thin Lizzy celebrate 40 years of rocking the world this year. Now that’s something to pop the bubbly over!

Things look a little different in the Lizzy camp today. Especially the band name. Thin Lizzy was created by the great Phil Lynott in 1969 with drummer Brian Downey. By the time the band experienced its breakthrough with the Jailbreak album in 1976 the lineup included Scott Gorham (guitar) and Brian Robertson (guitar) alongside Lynott (bass/vocals) and Downey (drums). Thin Lizzy, supplying such total classic rock staples as “Whiskey in the Jar”, “Jailbreak” and “The Boys Are Back In Town”, influenced many a generation of rock and metal fan, including Metallica who covered “Whiskey in the Jar”. Sadly the world lost Phil Lynott who died in hospital on January 4, 1986, at age 36.

Thin Lizzy continued to play with various lineups and members over the years. But when considering recording new material it was announced that no new recordings would come under the Thin Lizzy moniker as they wanted to honor Lynott and the legacy he created. Therefore the lineup at the time decided on the moniker change to Black Star Riders. The name if I’m not mistaken came from a movie they had been watching on the tour bus.

Black Star Riders emerged in 2013 with All Hell Breaks Loose and followed it up in 2015 by The Killer Instinct. These two albums garnered much critical and public acclaim and Black Star Riders found themselves heavily touring. Now with Gorham in this new band were Ricky Warwick (vocals), Damon Johnson (guitar), Jimmy Degrasso (drums) and Marco Mendoza (bass). In 2014 Mendoza was replaced with Robbie Crane.

Black Star Riders - MORC - Brian Ronald
Black Star Riders MORC 2015 by Brian Ronald

Having witnessed them opening for Judas Priest as Thin Lizzy, my first taste of Black Star Riders came at Sweden Rock in my first foray to the festival. They were also a part of the Monsters of Rock Cruise in 2015 as the ship sailed with 3000 or so (and me) wild rock fans aboard. Once again I will be treated to Black Star Riders live at Sweden Rock Festival this June.

Now in 2017, Black Star Riders are set to complete the album trilogy. With Heavy Fire, due out Feb 3rd via Nuclear Blast Records, Decibel Geek had an advance listen.


Any fans of this outfit’s previous works will quickly fall in love with Heavy Fire. And subsequently, at a minimum, are sure to place it on equal ground with its predecessors. The album gets going right off the bat with the title track. I found this song bouncing around inside my melon days after listening to Heavy Fire the first time. Furthermore, clearly present is the signature Thin Lizzy sound as it was on the first two albums, and right away I can feel this is going to be a great listening experience. What a way to start an album, eh?

So far Black Star Riders have issued 2 video/singles from Heavy Fire. The first was “When the Night Comes In” and recently “Testify or Say Goodbye” was unleashed which can be viewed below.

Black Star Riders - MORC 2015 - Brian Ronald
Scott Gorham MORC 2015 by Brian Ronald

While the whole album plays exceptionally well, for me, the standout track on Heavy Fire being “Who Rides the Tiger”. It’s a pounding hard rock treat featuring some tasty guitar and thunderous drumming. This one also pops into the head at random times overpowering “Heavy Fire”. Folks at work keep wondering why I’m asking them “Who Rides the Tiger”?

Touches of Thin Lizzy are littered all over the record and it is clear that Black Star Riders are really a top notch cohesive unit as showcased here in probably their best work to date. At least in the opinion of this author anyway…and that’s not saying the other efforts were any slouches either.

Final Thoughts

Having long listened to Thin Lizzy thanks to classic rock radio in days of youth, this current version of Black Star Riders has particular interest for me. As my musical tastes developed and changed throughout my teenage years, leaning more towards a hard rock sound I discovered two albums that still see regular play for me. The Almighty‘s 1991 released Soul Destruction featuring vocalist Ricky Warwick and Brother Cane‘s 1993 self-titled debut with guitarist Damon Johnson. I’m absolutely thrilled to see these guys together, creating more awesome soundtracks for my life. Watch out guys, I’ll be looking for you both when I see Black Star Riders live at Sweden Rock Festival with CD booklets and a sharpie marker in hand!

Heavy Fire comes out February 3, 2017…you should buy it! Really.


Official Black Star Riders Website / Facebook / Twitter


The Meister 

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2 thoughts on “BLACK STAR RIDERS – Heavy Fire (Album Review)”

  1. Heavy Fire is the best of the 3 BSR releases. They managed to keep the Thin Lizzy soul but created songs that were different enough from the first to albums to make it interesting. They flirt with becoming pop sounding with Testify or Say Goodbye. However the hook of the song is still stuck in my head and I love it. The arrangement on Heavy Fire is awesome and nothing from the TL era. Ricky Warwick’s lyrics are thoughtful and soulful. Damon Johnson really brings more musical ability to complement Scotty G than any other guitar player ever did. I don’t say that lightly.

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