BLACK STAR RIDERS - Another State Of Grace (Album)
BLACK STAR RIDERS are back with a new album, out now, and a new line up. Gone are drummer Jimmy DeGrasso, and guitarist Damon Johnson, who hasn’t cut himself off totally, as he recently toured with Ricky Warwick performing their combined acoustic greatest hits and stand-up routine. In come the replacements in the form of Chad Szeliga, and Christian Martucci.
This has had a profound effect on the latest offering from BSR, there’s still that echo of Thin Lizzy in the sound, but there is also a slight change in direction, thanks to the input from the new members, and the return of guest vocalist Pearl Aday.
‘Another State of Grace’ is the fourth album since BLACK STAR RIDERS rose like a phoenix from the ashes of Thin Lizzy. With Scott Gorman still producing some killer riffs, and Ricky Warwick supplying lyrics and vocals, the album opens with that distinctive, twin guitar, heavy rock they have been producing since 2013. ‘Tonight The Moonlight Let Me Down’ sets the standard, and shows that even when the lineup changes, the foundations are strong enough to hold the band together.
Traditional Irish music has always been an influence for Lizzy, and the Riders have regularly tapped into their ancestry for a few ideas. Album title track ‘Another State of Grace’ is filled with the sounds of the bodhran, and Irish pipes, mixed in with massive guitars, and references to troubles and violence. Likewise, ‘Ain’t The End Of The World’ is instantly recognisable as a BLACK STAR RIDERS track, with Warwick’s’ growling vocals, and Gorham’s guitar almost a double signature.
It’s at this point the album starts to show its diversity, reflecting the new members' influence, and the collaborations with their guest contributors. ‘Underneath The Afterglow was written with Gorham’s’ nephew Jesse Siebenberg, and is the heaviest track on the album. ‘Soldier In The Ghetto’ in contrast starts with a lively funky sound, but the lyrics deal with the familiar issues of love and war, that is the Riders favourite source of inspiration.
In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings, Ricky Warwick started writing how the news affected him and his young family, and now seven years later, the lyrics to ‘Why Do You Love Your Guns (More Than Your Kids?)’ are just as relevant and touching as the world has never learned that guns don’t solve problems. This track is heavily influenced by Warwick’s’ own solo material, with just the right amount of heavy guitar supporting the dark message.
‘Standing In The Line Of Fire’ is pure Riders magic, with Warwick’s raspy vocals and Gorham’s riffs mingling with Martucci’s in a twin aural assault. New drummer Szeliga, is a constant metronome throughout, providing a solid, heavy beat like an engine driving the juggernaut down the highway.
Meatloaf’s step-daughter, and backing vocalist, Pearl Aday returns to collaborate once again, after making a guest appearance on previous album track ‘Testify Or Say Goodbye’, and she brings a touch of Americana to ‘What Will It Take’.
There’s a bit of punk influence in ‘Shadow Of The War Machine’, another protest against the state of our world and the politics that are destroying it before the album closes out with the catchy hooks of ‘Poisoned Heart’.
‘Another State Of Grace’ is instantly recognisable as a BLACK STAR RIDERS album, with its heavy rock and Lizzy influence, but there is also some of Ricky Warwick’s solo material in there, along with the influences and ideas from the new band members, making this a bit more varied and enjoyable than previous albums.
The band start touring in October to support the new album and will have support from Stone Broken and Wayward Sons, making this a live show not to be missed.