Black Star Riders

Another State of Grace

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The follow-up to 2017's remarkably solid Heavy Fire, Another State of Grace sees the Tombstone-loving, Thin Lizzy-adjacent quintet deliver another streamlined set of workmanlike classic rock with a confectioner's stroke. It's also the first Black Star Riders studio outing for new drummer Chad Szeliga of Breaking Benjamin and Black Label Society fame -- Jimmy DeGrasso left amicably after completing the Heavy Fire tour -- and Stone Sour guitarist Christian Martucci, who took over for Damon Johnson in 2018 after the long-tenured six-stringer left his post to focus on session work and a solo career. Another State of Grace wastes little time getting to the point. Opener "Tonight the Moonlight Let Me Down" commences with a steely pick-slide before settling into the widescreen amalgam of hook-laden hard rock and open-road Americana that the band has been peddling since jettisoning the Thin Lizzy name in 2013. Longtime vocalist Ricky Warwick remains a formidable singer, putting his own spin on the late Phil Lynott's distinctive cadence, especially on Lizzy-esque gems like "Ain't the End of the World, "Poisoned Heart," and the rousing title cut, the latter of which looks to the Celtic pub rock attack of "Whiskey in the Jar" for inspiration. As per usual, the group's signature guitarmonies are on point, with Martucci proving to be just as adept at alchemical riffage as Johnson, and on par with longtime BSR/Lizzy guitar ace Scott Gorham. Produced with some considerable punch by Jay Ruston (Stone Sour, Uriah Heep), Another State of Grace isn't as immediately satisfying as its predecessor, but like all things built with care, it attains a golden patina over time.

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