What if the kids from Stranger Things got a little bit older and then formed a band with their number one influence being Thin Lizzy?
That’s exactly what Gygax sounds like on their 2nd album, 2nd Edition (2018), which achieves the magical combination of geeky Dungeons and Dragons lyrical themes and a resurrected Phil Lynott hard rock aesthetic.
The first album Critical Hits (2016) from Gygax didn’t quite hit the mark with me, but I did really love two tracks from it, which I listened to quite a bit: “The Rope of Shadow” and “Demons.” Both are excellent, especially “The Rope of Shadow,” which is my favorite Gygax song.
On their second outing, “Dice Throwers & Rock ‘n’ Rollers” kicks things off with a spot-on Thin Lizzy hard rock shuffle. Then “It Makes It Worth It” ups the ante with even more intense blistering funk and some tasty flamethrower lead guitar lines. And “The Lascivious Underdark” makes it a hat trick with yet more of the magical Gygax 70s spell.
Things shift down slightly with “Pure Hearts,” which is unexpectedly perhaps the finest track on the disc, being an uncanny imitation of Phil Lynott at his most moving. But “Song of the Silverhands” ramps up the action once more into the speedy shuffle zone. Although “Wish” returns to more subtle rocking, the downshift is again highly satisfying as the tension builds nicely and the groove is undeniable. Toes will tap: resistance is futile.
The only skippable track for me is the penultimate no-drums “Heavy Meddle,” and yet it is an appropriately deployed smoke break before the pull-out-all-the-stops grand finale “Second Wind.”
I’ve always been a big fan of Thin Lizzy, and even though Black Star Riders continues to fly the flag, I am more impressed by the second Gygax outing, since its exercises in nostalgia come across as truly heartfelt.
Like the aforementioned “Pure Hearts,” what we have here is youthful joy captured like bottled lightning. And who wouldn’t want to drink that magic potion? Well, now you can.
Gygax = D&D R&R
Eric (Cleric) – Bass, Vocals
Bryant (Fighter) – Guitar
Wes (Wizard) – Guitar
Ian (Druid) – Keys