When Life Was Hard And Fast

(Nuclear Blast Records)

      When Glasgow, Scotland-born Hard Rock masters The Almighty issued their full-length debut Blood, Fire And Love in 1988, it was immediately clear that vocalist/guitarist Ricky Warwick was the creative focal point of the then-burgeoning quartet. Not surprisingly, as he progressed through a career that would soon encompass a notoriously prolific solo career--most notably Tattoos & Alibis, 2003 and Belfast Confetti, 2009--and eventually the post-Thin Lizzy all-star collective Black Star Riders, his already reputation as a bona fide creative force not to be ignored increased exponentially. The release of Another State Of Grace in 2019, the group's fourth (and first to feature Stone Sour axemaster Christian Martucci and drummer Chad Szeliga) found Warwick leading the group as they charted throughout Europe. Accordingly, with the release of the charismatic frontman's latest solo opus When Life Was Hard And Fast (2021), he appears destined for the global recognition he's rightfully earned.

      On the oft-brilliant When Life Was Hard And Fast (2021), an expertly assembled eleven song collection of Black Metal, each track, beginning with the maddeningly infectious anthem “When Life Was Hard And Fast” and the delightfully hook-laden “I'd Rather Be Hit”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of all parties involved, myself most definitely included. Yielding an initial series of auditory excursions that are as fine-tuned as they are high-octane and, not surprisingly, outright memorable, Warwick soars with an undeniably well-deserved air of self-confidence. Flexing his more-than-considerable creative muscles early and often, the group panders to their target demographic by once again 'delivering' the proverbial 'goods' without borrowing too heavily from the glories of yore (the Joe Elliot co-Produced Hearts In Trees, 2014, among many others). Undeniably the fruit of his trademark labors, they shimmer with a stark sense of originality so few can speak of.

      Continuing with the self-explanatory tirade “Never Corner A Rat” and the lilting, acoustic gem “Time Don't Seem To Matter”, the unnervingly airtight combination of vocalist/guitarist Ricky Warwick, lead guitarist Keith Nelson, bassist Robert Crane (Black Star Riders, Ratt, Saints Of The Underground) and drummer Xavier Muriel (Cadillac Voodoo Choir, Doro, Saucer) steamrolls ahead at what can only be described as a carefully-calculated pace. Largely driving home each key focal point via a seamless blend of now-trademark gritty vocals, blistering fretwork and imaginatively punishing rhythms, he wisely avoids the desperate 'reinvent the wheel' mentality of his few remaining contemporaries. Arguably improving upon the ingenious When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues) (2014) without, believe it or not, imploding under the veritable weight of his own truly virtuosic talents, Warwick proves himself worthy of the recognitions afforded to him throughout his career.

      Produced by Nelson (Alice Cooper, Buckcherry, Slash), other standouts, including the rumbling, arena ready “Still Alive” and the equally impressive closer “You're My Rock 'N' Roll”, are guaranteed to leave both die-hard completists and clueless newcomers alike only wanting for more. Fortified throughout via the inclusions of the previously released covers compilation Stairwell Troubadour, Warwick now finds himself on the cusp of a solo commercial breakthrough, he delivers a distilled essence of his lyrical and compositional ingenuity. Exhaustive in both it's focus and overall execution, even those still unfamiliar with his history, you'll only have yourself to blame for not wholeheartedly embracing everything offered. Ultimately succeeding by displaying a significant level of artistic growth without abandoning the tropes that propelled him to the dizzying heights of international acclaim, what hoists this collection to such an exalted status is Warwick's unnerving overall sense of conviction.

      Is it groundbreaking or revolutionary? Absolutely not. But then again, that's really not the point, now is it? Undeniably the notoriously prolific Warwick's most effective and (as a result, most thoroughly enjoyable) solo offering yet, the majority--if not all--of the decidedly ear-pleasing wares contained herein exemplify his already well-documented penchant for crafting lastingly memorable material. An obvious must-have for every genuine and sincere The Almighty/Warwick/Black Star Riders enthusiast, what ultimately renders the nearly lethal gem that is so often When Life Was Hard And Fast one of the finest releases of the year is his ceaseless dedication to further honing his already razor-sharp chops. Needless to say, if you have once again found yourself in search of refreshing alternative to the painfully blas√© auditory atrocities of the so-called mainstream, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane counterirritant for what it is that ails us all. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.

Select Discography

When Life Was Hard And Fast (2021)

Another State Of Grace (2019)

Heavy Fire (2017)

The Killer Instinct (2015)

Stairwell Troubadour (2015)

When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues) (2014)

Hearts In Trees (2014)

All Hell Breaks Loose (2013)

Belfast Confetti (2009)

Loves Owes (EP) (2007)

Love Many Trust Few (2005)

Tattoos & Alibis (2003)

Pyshco-Narco (2001)

The Almighty (2000)

Just Add Life (1996)

Crank (1994)

Powertrippin' (1993)

Soul Destruction (1991)

Blood, Fire And Love (1988)


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