On March 4, 1983 "Thin Lizzy" released their 12th album - "Thunder And Lightning".
This is the band's last album and also the heaviest album they released during their career. 3 years after the release of this album, Phil Lynott died and closed the door on the possibility that the band would continue to work together and produce new material.
The fact that this album is considered the band's heaviest album is mainly due to the inclusion of guitarist John Sykes, who replaced Snowy White, who left the band due to a lack of clarity as to whether the album sessions were aimed at a "Thin Lizzy" album or a Phil Lynott solo album. White believed that if these were sessions for Lynott's solo album, then he should be paid for his contribution as a hired session player.
Although most of the material for the album was written before the addition of guitarist John Sykes, his presence is very noticeable in the sound and style of the album. As you may remember, Sykes started his musical career in 1980 in the band "Streetfighter" and after a short time moved to the band "Tygers of PanTang", with which he released two full studio albums and guested on the third. In 1982 he successfully auditioned for the band "Thin Lizzy" and became its lead guitarist alongside Scott Gorham.
The joining of John Sykes turned out to be the right decision, which helped the sound of "Thin Lizzy" to be updated to the metal spirit of the time. His guitar playing was heavier than anything previously recorded by the band, with neo-classical influences. Although the band has been based over the years on the trademark of Twin Guitar sound, veteran guitarist Scott Gorham allowed Sykes to play more lead parts, with the entire band inspired by the freshness and innovation of their new recruit, not to mention Sykes' powerful playing. What was very beautiful about the addition of Sykes, was that his performance pushed Gorham to upgrade his playing as well. As it turned out, the guitars of Gorham and Sykes on this album are aggressive and heavy. The riffs and solos are sharp, catchy, and heavy, while "Thin Lizzy" simply reinvents itself, but at the same time preserves its unique sound.
Another addition that influenced the sound and style of the album, was related to keyboardist Darren Wharton, who participated in writing many of the songs on the album, including "Some Day She Is Going to Hit Back" and the last single "The Sun Goes Down", thus contributing to the special style. At times, Wharton's keyboard work contrasts and complements the heavy riffs of the guitars, but adds depth to the songs, as can be heard, among others, in the song "The Holy War".
Besides the twin guitar sound and keyboard influence, this album features Phil Lynott's excellent bass work and Brian Downey's steady and versatile drumming, which together form the rhythm section so unique to the band's sound. Downey's performance falls into two. On the one hand, the sophisticated and melodic transitions and on the other hand the aggressive and heavy drumming, which together create one of the high points of his career. And of course, it is impossible not to mention Lynott's perfect voice, which knows how to be deep, melodic, or even romantic in love songs, but also furious and powerful when needed.
It is interesting to note, that the two heaviest tracks were chosen to be the leading singles from it, each "heavy" in its own way.
The first, "Cold Sweat", which is the only song in which guitarist John Sykes participated in the writing, as he joined the band after most of the album had already been written. The song was written in the studio while the album was being recorded and became the biggest single from it. It is characterized by Sykes' powerful playing and the use of the tapping technique during the solo. It is interesting to note, that quite a few cover versions of this song have been recorded, among them "Megadeth" on the album "Super Collider" from 2013 and "Helloween's" which was released as a b-side to the single "Perfect Gentleman" in 1994.
The second, "The Sun Goes Down". This is the only slow number on the album, a deep and meaningful song. But the quieter it is, the more powerful it is!!! A simply great song written by Phil Lynott and keyboardist Darren Wharton, so it's no surprise that it leans on Lynott's mesmerizing bass playing and Wharton's soaring keyboard atmosphere. And what an amazing and sweeping solo John Sykes tailormade to this song. Pay attention to his crazy playing in the live performance version in the clip below, starting at minute 5:05 of the song. It would be the band's last single ever, and is undoubtedly one of Lynott's finest works.
Beyond the two singles we mentioned above, the album is a pure pleasure of classic hard rock and heavy metal. From the opening and theme song of the album "Thunder And Lightning", which is powerful and furious, and sets the tone for the rest of the album, to "Heart Attack" which leaves us with a taste for more, this album illustrates all the good that this great band has to offer. Despite the heaviness and innovation compared to the band's previous albums, Lynott and his band members managed to maintain their typical playing style. The classic sound of "Thin Lizzy" is well preserved here and it combines melody with fast playing and harmonies produced by the twin guitars. On the other hand, "Lizzy" also shows here a darker, heavier, rougher, and angrier side with darker lyrics. This contrast is maintained even in a love song like "Baby Please Don't Go".
"Thunder And Lightning" was undoubtedly a radical change of direction for the band. It featured a more aggressive and heavier sound that the band had not shown before. It was a risky bet for the band, but "Thin Lizzy" proved that it paid off in a big way. They renewed but did not forget their past and thus produced an album that will be written in the pages of history as an excellent album that was the "swan song" of a wonderful band.