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Thin Lizzy: Thunder and Lightning
(Vertigo - 1983)
Category: underrated
4 stars

On this album John Sykes replaced Snowy White as second guitarist next to Scott Gorham. Sykes' past as guitarist of the NWOBHM band Tygers of Pan Tang leaves its trace on this album, as Thin Lizzy never got this close before to being a Heavy Metal band. Frantic uptempo tracks like 'Cold Sweat' and the titletrack are the heaviest songs the band ever recorded as they have more in common with 'Spellbound'-era Tygers of Pan Tang than with anything Thin Lizzy put to vinyl in the past. It's no surprise the Lynott/Sykes-penned 'Cold Sweat' was covered by such Speed Metal bands as Helloween and Sodom.

This album isn't just special because of its energy and the conviction with which the songs are played, but also because the song writing is at such a high level. On average these songs are just as good as anything that's on 'Black Rose' or 'Jailbreak'. They're just heavier.

When you listen to the chorus of 'This is the one' or the twin guitar duel in it, you'll find that the band sounds inspired and rejuvenated, especially if you keep in mind that this slab of vinyl was released after the uninspired and tired sounding album 'Renegade'. You get the same impression of purpose and conviction when you hear 'The Holy War', another track that's packed with strong melodies (even though the chorus is repeated a bit too often at the end).

But oddly enough the strongest composition isn't one of the four aformentioned killer tracks. No matter how good they are, it's the rather mysterious and dark sounding semi-ballad 'The Sun goes Down' that takes the cake. Not only does it really give you the impression that sunlight is fading and that darkness is slowly creeping up on you, it also features one of the best melodic guitar solo's ever. On top of that Phil Lynott's low pitched voice works really well on this one.

The album does lose a bit of momentum towards the end, ('Bad Habits' especially must be the result of song writer's block), but all in all 'Thunder and Lightning' is one of Thin Lizzy's most consistent albums. It's just a shame it also was their last studio album. It would've been interesting to see how they'd have progressed from here on. They could've released one or two more interesting albums in the three years to come before the death of Phil Lynott would have put a stop to everything.


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