Whilst lead guitarist Scott Gorham endured many partnerships throughout his career with Thin Lizzy, the loss of guitar slinger Damon Johnson was never going to be an easy cross to bear for Black Star Riders.
Following the departure of Johnson last year the band recruited new axeman Christian Martucci, who joins the three-pronged attack alongside stalwarts Gorham and frontman Ricky Warwick. Upon which the band entered the studio to commence a new chapter in the group’s history.
Opening track Tonight The Moonlight Let Me Down is maybe not your textbook BSR number, but it’s certainly a welcome addition to their repertoire. The band’s twin guitar assault is still present, whilst the introduction of Sax in the latter stages of the song adds a nice texture to the number. Maybe this one will get the crowd Dancing In The Moonlight, if you excuse the pun.
Recent radio playlisted singles such as the Celtic tinged Ain’t The End of the World and the anthemic Another State of Grace are the kind of staple crowd-pleasers we’ve come to know and love from Black Star Riders. Each of these tracks sits side by side at the top of the record.
Underneath The Afterglow continues in a similar vein as the previously mentioned singles. With its crunchy riffs, thunderous rhythm and huge chorus, the track will inevitably become a live favourite on the band’s forthcoming UK tour.
The funky Hammond/keys intro to Soldier In The Ghetto is again a little bit different for BSR. However, it works and adds a nice classic rock quality to the song where required. Think Jon Lord during his tenure with Deep Purple and you will come somewhere close to the desired effect.
The band switch things up somewhat with power ballad Why Do You Love Your Guns, before returning to business as usual with the groove-heavy Standing In The Line of Fire.
With lines like ‘Hey Mr President are you watching’ there is a bit more of a political context to the hard-rocking In The Shadow of the War Machine. Again one of the many standout tracks on the record.
Black Star Riders push the album over the finish line with the infectious melody of Poisoned Heart. A perfect conclusion to the album and a further contender for a future single we think.
With Another State of Grace, Black Star Riders have broadened their horizons and certainly flexed their creative muscles in the studio adding to and reinforcing their existing musical DNA.
Black Star Riders may have lost one of their founding members in Damon Johnson. And of course its never easy to replace and original member, but as the old saying goes, the show must go on, and so too does Black Star Riders.