Is it me, or do the bands that take the most obvious influence from Thin Lizzy tend to be the biggest dorks? Thin Lizzy certainly has some legendary albums to its name and influenced generations of twin guitar harmonizers, but something about the setup gets rather nerdy when you take out Phil Lynott’s Irish working class, folk hero attitude. I suppose we could blame Iron Maiden, as their combination of Lizzy-influenced harmonies and historical fantasy lyrics did set them up as the most awesomely geeky of the 80s metal giants.
Either way, Gygax has seemingly made the same observation and is running with it on their second full-length album. Like their 2015 debut, Second Edition sustains the marriage between D&D-themed lyrics and straight up Thin Lizzy worship. Throughout the album you’ll find a slew of upbeat boogie tempos, bright guitar trade-offs atop sturdy bass-driven rhythms, and slyly crooning vocals. “Song of the Silver Hands” and “Heavy Meddle” even sneak in horns with cheesy yet lovable results.
The concept is undeniably silly, but you also can’t deny that it’s very well executed. The musicians accurately emulate the tones and playing styles of their masters while also showing off their own natural chemistry with one another. Considering how the guys present are a who’s who of metal randomness including members of Pentagram, Warbringer, and Huntress among others, I suppose a project like this is a good way to get some common ground. After all, metal is full of dorks who enjoy Thin Lizzy. Myself included.
The songwriting manages to be enjoyable but may lack some real depth to it. Most of the songs like “The Lascivious Underdark” are bouncy romps with a few outliers in the form of the moody “Heavy Meddle” and the grit on the appropriately titled “Second Wind.” The songs are all serviceable but it’s the type of album that immediately spells out what it sets out to accomplish without needing much further elaborate. That said, “Pure Hearts” comes out stronger than the rest thanks to its “Emerald”-style buildup and hooky chorus.
Aside from adding in a few extra frills, Gygax hasn’t changed too dramatically between Critical Hits and Second Edition. The extra nerdy take on Thin Lizzy worship remains intact and the musicianship offers a solid mix of tribute and spontaneity. The group could benefit from more memorable songwriting or perhaps a more narrative take on the D&D formula, but this makes for a fun thirty-four minute adventure.