The follow-up to 2015's Killer Instinct, the aptly named Heavy Fire delivers another barrage of might, melody, and dual-lead riffage that invokes the heydays of classic rock without falling victim to nostalgia. The third time around for Thin Lizzy expats Ricky Warwick, Scott Gorham, Damon Johnson, and Jimmy DeGrasso, and the second ride for former Ratt and Lynch Mob member Robbie Crane, Heavy Fire sees the veteran decibel-makers firing on all cylinders. Produced by Grammy winner Nick Raskulinecz (Danzig, Rush, Death Angel), who allows the band's raw power to do all of the heavy lifting, the ten-track set comes out of the gate swinging with its pugilistic title track, a bluesy, shape-shifting kick in the noggin that plays to all of the bandmembers' strengths. Slinky guitarmonies and playful chord changes evoke vintage Thin Lizzy on standouts like "Dancing with the Wrong Girl" and "Testify or Say Goodbye," both of which are as radio-ready as they are inventive, and the wistful "Cold War Love" proves that Black Star Riders are just as capable of infusing midtempo balladry with muscle as they are straight-up barnburners like "When the Night Comes In" and "Letting Go of Me." As vital as the instrumental performances are, the biggest charge is delivered by Ricky Warwick's seasoned croon and confidant phrasing, with the gospel-tinged, Dark Side of the Moon-esque backing vocals of Wendy Moten, Gale Mayes, and Drea Rhenee providing their own particular set of sparks. What began as an extension of post-Phil Lynott-era Thin Lizzy has become something far more nuanced, and with three solid studio albums now in their rear-view mirror, it would seem that Black Star Riders have successfully managed to embrace the past without losing themselves in it.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger