The release of the album came as a surprise, as Harris managed to keep its creation under wraps until just before it hit stores. The songwriting core for the album was Harris, vocalist Richard Taylor and guitarist David Hawkins. Other musicians contributing to British Lion include guitarists Grahame Leslie and Barry Fitzgibbon along with drummers Simon Dawson, Ian Roberts and Richard Cook.
The sound of British Lion is nothing like Iron Maiden. It has a classic rock/hard rock vibe. It opens strong with “This Is My God,” a driving and diverse track. “Lost Worlds” has a promising beginning before petering out with an acoustic ending. Things bounce back with the standout song “Karma Killer.” Harris' bass is turned up loud throughout the album, which he co-produced.
The songwriting on British Lion is straightforward without being simple. The songs are groovy and catchy, much more Thin Lizzy and UFO than Iron Maiden. “Us Against The World” does have some of that Maiden guitar sound at the beginning before mellowing out. Taylor doesn’t have a ton of power in his voice, but sings with a lot of texture and emotion.
The songs are very hit and miss. While several tracks hold their own (“ A World Without Heaven,” “Eyes Of The Young”) there are a couple that are nothing but filler. The shadow of Iron Maiden looms large over any member’s side project, and with musicians the caliber of Bruce Dickinson and company, it’s a difficult shadow to get out from under.
Harris made a wise decision taking the musical direction of British Lion away from Maiden, and it is a solid ‘70s style hard rock effort. If that’s your cup of tea, you’ll enjoy what they’ve done.
(released September 25, 2012 on Universal Records)