Review Summary: The boys are back in town and still going strong with a solid yet unspectacular sophomore release.
It’s an interesting project to benchmark one of hard rock’s most legendary bands against its newer peers in an era where revival music has become a trend. Because have no doubt, Black Star Riders with Scott Gorham on guitar is almost 100% of the latest lineup of Thin Lizzy. Granted, the fact that these veteran rockers decided to go with another band name is firstly logical and probably an indication of their intention to alternate their sound and maybe evolve it compared to the traditional Lizzy one.
The Killer Instinct
is the band’s second effort, released two years after their commercially successful debut All Hell Breaks Loose
. In a sentence, this album is a combination of the traditional Irish folk infused blues rock of Thin Lizzy with a strong scent of American modern AOR. Moreover, it’s inevitable not to notice the striking resemblance in the voice and technique of singer Ricky Warwick with Phil Lynott from the very first track. That’s not necessarily a con though as the vocals fit the music and Warwick’s voice is objectively enjoyable. However, where this album fails to perform is on tracks such as “Finest Hour” that sounds as if it was taken from the soundtrack of an American teen movie or “Blindsided” and “You Little Liar” that have potential but are too long their own sake and seem to go nowhere.
The remaining tracks are highly reminiscent of ‘70s Thin Lizzy with their Irish flavored boogie rock. Tracks like “Soldierstown” with the catchy folk guitar lead, “Charlie Gotta Go” and “Through the Motions” that sound as if they were taken from Johnny the Fox
and “Turn In Your Arms” with the dual guitar lead a la Lizzy’s “Massacre” are the most pleasing tracks of the album. However, even the best tracks seem to lack that oomph that would lift them to the point of being special. Overall, there’s not a genuinely bad track but a number of average moments sporadically dispersed throughout the album.
On the other hand, the standout on The Killer Instinct
is none other than Scott Gorham. The veteran guitarist provides riff after riff and a number of excellent leads and solos. It really is commendable how after all these years of service, he still can come up with such a performance. In addition, the production of the album makes what is mostly a ‘70s Thin Lizzy album sound fresh which is quite a big success.
To sum up, The Killer Instinct
is not a bad effort as it does everything it’s supposed to do adequately and even admirably at some points. The guitar playing is great, the vocals fit the overall mood nicely and the songwriting is good enough to make the album an enjoyable experience. Nevertheless, The Killer Instinct
seems to lack that extra factor that would add lifetime value and make it stand out as one of this year’s best releases. Fans of Thin Lizzy will probably like the album and find quite a few pleasant moments but I wonder if Black Star Riders’ sophomore effort is an album we’ll revisit frequently in the future.