The new Black Star Riders album Wrong Side of Paradise signals the end of one era and the start of a new one. After eight years with Nuclear Blast this, their fifth record, is their first with Earache Records, their first without co-founding guitarist Scott Gorham, and their first as a quartet.
There might be changes and new horizons aplenty but their sound is still as reliable as ever, as the stomping Hard Rock of the title track happily demonstrates – with its driving rhythm, sizable chorus, and fiery guitar work. ‘Better Than Saturday Night’ is a classic slice of BSR – an emphatic, feel-good rocker with a chunky riff and an infectious, radio-friendly chorus. Another track with a similarly sweet chorus and some woozy, Classic Rock style guitar work is ‘Burning Rome’ – seemingly purpose-built for a lighter waving, audience singalong. Their Thin Lizzy foundation of rock polished with modern production values is alive and well, even if it is a bit dog-eared.
Wrong Side of Paradise is forty minutes of good time rock n’ roll, full of energy, chunky riffs, and earworm choruses with a velcro-like catchiness. It may sound a bit familiar at times but it never gets dull, be it the heavy, fuzz-addled hooks of ‘Pay Dirt’ or the slick guitar harmonies and resplendently big chorus of ‘Don’t Let the World (Get in the Way)’. The Celtic flavour of ‘Green and Pleasant Land’ or the ode to hard work ‘Hustle’, with its blasts of harmonica. They do manage to throw in one surprise though, a full-throttle cover of The Osmonds ‘Crazy Horses’ – and a rather good one at that. Yes, you did read that last sentence correctly.
You may have heard rock of this ilk many times before but Ricky Warwick and the lads know their job and they do it darn well. A decent way to mark the band’s ten-year anniversary.
Buy the album here:
7 / 10