Sound — 7
By 1987, Gary Moore was a well established and experienced guitarist, known for his recordings with Thin Lizzy, Colosseum II and many others, as well as his solo career which by then was going quite well. Since about '83, though, he had been going through the motions, releasing a couple of pop metal LP's which were only moderately exciting. However, in 1986, his friend and musical soulmate Phil Lynott passed away, and the devastation triggered Gary's inspiration. He decided to go back to the folksy, Irish-tinged rock of his Lizzy days, and dedicate his next record to Phil. This turned out to be quite a successful experiment. Gary took the melodies and harmonies of Thin Lizzy, spiced them up with his own blinding guitar skills, and framed it all inside a typical, reverb-heavy 80s-style production. The songs on here range from dramatic, storytelling epics, to pop metal, to bleeding instrumentals and even pure folk music. I could have lived without the pop, of course, but the rest is a worthy bunch.
Lyrics — 6
His most recent albums had featured lyrics so clich-ridden, uninspired and cheesy that they were a serious threat to the credibility of the actual music. Gary was never quite the poet. However, on "Wild Frontier", he rose to the challenge of delivering atmospheric lyrics to fit the music, and he did accomplish something. The album has an adventurous quality to it, as it tells us the tales of war, crimes of passion, and the legendary Irish hero C Chulainn. Gary's vocals were better suited to these epic songs than to the pop metal he had been doing for some years, and he makes every song sound just as huge as it deserves to sound. He was never the best singer around, though, and it would have been very interesting to hear Phil's takes on some of these songs.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, this is probably an album that is best enjoyed by fans of 80s metal, and also power metal, actually. I can hear traces of this album in the music of bands such as Firewind, for example. The title track and "Over The Hills And Far Away" were hits, and are great examples of the Irish influence that has lived on in some of today's music. "Thunder Rising" is a tragically overlooked, epic masterpiece, and I cannot for my life see why this song isn't more known. "The Loner" is one of Gary's most highly regarded instrumentals, and it really is about as emotional as a guitar solo can get. "Take A Little Time" is quite annoying, though, and also "Friday On My Mind" if you're not in the right mood. But the closing track, "Johnny Boy", is probably the most touching farewell Philip Lynott ever got after his passing. The late 80s were plagued by an endless stream of pointless hair metal bands (no need to name them, I think you know). This album is a relief, as it actually sounds heartfelt almost all of the time. If you can't stand dated 80s production, with drum machines and all (I know there are many of you), this will probably be indigestible, but everyone else should consider this a worthy addition to your collection!