Back in the ’90s, Iron Maiden wasn’t quite so busy and Steve Harris got involved with a band called British Lion. That band eventually broken up, but in 2012 Harris got lead singer Richard Taylor and others together to produce an album with Harris’s name attached to it (at the time he called it a “side project”, not a solo album), and named the album after the original band, British Lion. Some of the songs on the 2012 album were even written by the original band. It was not very highly reviewed, and personally I think for the most part it’s more of a mid-tempo, melodic style that I didn’t really like. There was no sign of the progressive-ness of Maiden, nor many real rockin’ parts to sink your teeth into.
Over the next 7 years, the band toured Europe a number of times in between Maiden tours, until finally there was time to get into a
studio and record the songs they’d been writing. The band is now, once again, formally named British Lion. Lead singer Richard Taylor is back, as are guitarists David Hawkins and Grahame Leslie. This time around, although the writing is still in a different style than Iron Maiden, the songs are harder, Taylor’s voice alternates between melodic and hard rock style along with the music and it’s a much more enjoyable album to listen to.
The lead track has a bit of a Foofighters feel to it, actually, but it’s still more melodic than some of the other songs. The title track has a nice lead guitar part, and is a really good song, with a nice breakdown just before each chorus. Father Lucifer is the first song I really like. It’s a harder tune with a catchy chorus, a great solo and the first time Taylor’s voice really stands out. Elysium is even a bit harder, although still mid-tempo. This track gives everyone a chance to shine, with both a keyboard and a guitar solo. It has a different feel than the others, and I liked this one too.
The songs start to diverge from here. Lightning has a good guitar part in the verses and an excellent solo, but the chorus goes the pop/melodic route. After a quiet intro, Last Chance gets into a nice 80s hard rock groove, with a catchy melody and a harder feel to it. Legends is a more modern sounding track – Taylor sounds more powerful, but the melody is lighter and pop-oriented. The best of the middle tracks, Spit Fire‘s time signature and Taylor’s voice give this song an Irish feel – it’s a good blend of melodic and hard rock.
Of the final 3 songs, only Bible Black is truly hard rock. The intro rocks, and before each new verse there’s a crunchier guitar sound, followed by the melodic verse and chorus. Taylor pushes his voice hard on this one, and there’s a great, long breakdown and solo. This one was worth waiting for!
Overall the album is a good listen, and a significant improvement over the first album. Maybe one disappointment would be that the bass playing is subdued, maybe by design or through the mixing process, so if you want to hear Steve Harris in action, you’ll have to see them live. British Lion is on tour now (see tour dates here), so check out the album (literally click on the album cover) and go see Steve and the boys live. I’ve got my ticket!