Album review: BLACK STAR RIDERS – Another State Of Grace

Nuclear Blast [release date 06.09.19]

Black Star Riders are back with album number 4 and it is the first to feature both drummer Chad Szeliga and newest recruit Christian Martucci on guitar. Martucci took over from the departed Damon Johnson who has been an integral part of the band from its inception and had a great writing partnership with Ricky Warwick. So has his absence been felt on the new album?

It takes roughly twenty seconds of the opening track ‘Tonight The Moonlight Let Me Down’ to realise that it is business as usual in the BSR’s camp. The track is an out and out rocker with all the elements we have come to expect from Black Star Riders further augmented by some tasty saxophone work from none other than Michael Monroe. The album title track then follows and it’s a full on Celtic romp with a powerful vocal from Ricky Warwick and great twin guitar work from Martucci and Scott Gorham.

The twin guitar attack continues on ‘Ain’t The End Of The World’ before ‘Underneath The Afterglow’ changes the groove and pace slightly complete with a big, singalong chorus. Things take another twist with ‘Soldier In The Ghetto’ which kicks off with a keyboard line which could have been lifted from a mid-seventies disco track but develops into another top notch rocker.

The heartfelt ‘Why Do You Love Your Guns’ follows which addresses the US gun laws which may split the crowd Stateside. The song was written in the aftermath of the Sandy Hills Elementary School shooting in Connecticut where 20 children lost their lives which had a profound effect on Ricky Warwick and his family. It is a laid back and reflective song with a strong lyric which Ricky sings from the heart to great effect. This is followed by ‘Standing In The Line Of Fire’ which ups the pace again carried along on a great central riff.

‘What Will It Take’ could be a Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty track, an acoustic led number with a lilting melody. Ricky is aided on vocals on this one by Pearl Aday (daughter of Meat Loaf and wife of Scott Ian of Anthrax in case you were wondering). This track adds another element to the album and the band’s repertoire which is interesting to hear.

‘Shadow Of The War Machine’ has a pop at Donald J Trump with his sabre rattling ways and bullish leadership before things are then rounded off with ‘Poisoned Heart’, not sure if this is another comment on the Commander In Chief!

Black Star Riders have come up with another strong album and the new members have blended seamlessly into the fold which is good to hear. In these uncertain times it’s good to have something you can rely on and if things are getting too much for you just slip on some BSR and lose yourself in ‘Another State Of Grace’.  ****

Review by Dave Wilson

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