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Sunday, 9 June 2013

Reviews: Black Star Riders, Buckcherry, Evile

Black Star Riders: All Hell Breaks Loose (Nuclear Blast)

So the band that have been touring as Thin Lizzy had a reshuffle and a rename before releasing this album of new material, mainly out of respect for Lynott's legacy. This is a noble idea but the song, as Zep said, remains the same. That's right much of the musical output on this record is similar in style to Thin Lizzy's recorded output. With the only original member in the band being guitarist Scott Gorham it means that a lot of the dual guitar riffage he helped invent is present meaning that this coupled with Ricky Warwick's uncanny Lynottisms, this album has the Lizzy hallmarks. From the first four tracks this is obvious with the strutting title track opening things in strong style, before Bound For Glory is all hard rock bluster with a riff half inched from Waiting For An Alibi before the Celtic flavoured Kingdom Of The Lost makes everything sound very Emerald and also has a massive helping of Over The Hills And Far Away by former Lizzy guitarist Gary Moore, before the heavier delivery of Bloodshot makes everything go a bit like Massacre. Musician wise Jimmy DeGrasso does his best to be Brian Downey (who declined to take part in the recordings) providing the thunder (and lightning) on the heavy rockers and also a subdued backing on the slower, Marco Mendoza does what he does and provides some sterling bass work playing it like a six stringer, Gorham is as usual excellent but special kudos goes to Damon Johnson who is Brian Robertson, Gary Moore and John Sykes all rolled into one and also to Ricky Warwick who has a great voice with enough Lynott-like delivery to make it authentic but enough of his own grit to make his contribution more than just a cheap rip off. It's not all Lizzy though as Kissing The Ground You Walk On sounds like The Almighty but for the most part this is twin-lead flailing classic rock that has all the trademarks of the previous namesake. A rose by any other name? Very much so Black Star Riders are just classic rock class with a new moniker. 8/10

Buckcherry: Confessions (Eleven Seven Music)

L.A sleaze rockers Buckcherry return with a new album after their strong showing on 2010's All Night Long which took them back to their hard party attitude and this continues on Confessions but they also vary there sound too. The opening punky riffage and repetitive hook of Gluttony is pure rock and roll reverie and this continues on the violent Wrath but things slow down on The Truth for the album’s first power ballad. If you haven't guessed from two of the tracks this album is based around the Seven Deadly sins which become part of an overarching concept that encompasses the anti-capitalist cry of Greed, the piano and orchestral ballad Sloth, the country tinged exorcism of Pride and final one-two of the bass propelled Envy and the hard rocking Lust. As per usual the performances of guitarist Keith Nelson and vocalist Josh Todd are excellent with Nelson peeling off riff after dirty riff which are bolstered by Stevie D's rhythm playing as well as Jimmy Ashurst's snarling bass and Xaiver Muriel's wild drumming, at its most volatile on Seven Ways To Die. As usual Josh Todd is commander-in-chief with his unique voice leading the charge on all the tracks. This is a more adult album than the party hard ethos that was on All Night Long and their self-titled debut, the conceptual nature means that they can spread their musical wings a bit but still maintain their hard rock ethos and because of that this album is not going to be played in strip joints around the world (much like their hit Crazy Bitch has been) but it does show that the band have some serious musical chops and can adapt their sound if they need to. 7/10

Evile: Skull (Earache)

Four albums into their career and it seems Evile have to once again prove their thrash credentials after the 'mainstream' approach they took on Five Serpents Teeth and especially its first single Cult. Well it looks like the band have taken offence to the accusations of mainstream pandering as right from the off Skull tries to rip your face off with pure thrash fury, things kick off with the furious maelstrom of riffage that is Underworld which immediately lays out their stall with its Slayer like ferocity and stomping bridge that turns into some super-speed soloing from Ol Drake. In fact the King et al influence has been plain to see in Evile's albums since the debut and this album is the first since the debut to be faithful to the old-school thrash of Slayer, Testament etc. Underworld is an excellent start to the album hitting you like a battering ram right out of the gates before things continue on the title track that is driven by Ben Carter's drumming and tells of alien worlds and has a chant along middle section straight out of the Hetfield playbook. Speaking of Hetfield it is worth mentioning that Matt Drake's voice is at the best it has ever been on this record he truly sounds like a frontman now with a clear but rough edged delivery. Things slow a bit on The Naked Sun which features an acoustic intro and outro Head Of The Demon gets heads banging again (albeit slower than on the wind-milling openers). Evile have raised their game again on their fourth outing mixing everything they have learned together meaning that they can easily move from the furious thrash, to more complex arrangements like Tomb which has got a little whiff of One to it with the multi layered electric and acoustic guitars, slow burning opening and then the dramatic increase in noise where everything gets much louder before a massive solo brings things to a head. This is a strong album that shows that you can aim for success while still maintaining your underground roots and Evile have merged all their previous efforts together and thrown in a few nods to their influences to produce another excellent album. 8/10

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