The Anglo-American rock supergroup BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION comprising vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Trapeze), drummer Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin, Foreigner), Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Alice Cooper, Billy Idol) and blues-rock guitarist/vocalist Joe Bonamassa, will release their long awaited fourth album “BCCIV” via Mascot Records on Friday, September 22 2017.
This is the band’s first studio album since 2013 and “Afterglow”.
Like its three predecessors “BCCIV” was overseen by Kevin Shirley, whose catalogue of hit records for Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, Journey, The Black Crowes, has made him the hottest producer that rock music has to offer.
Shirley, who originally had the idea of putting Hughes and Bonamassa in a band after seeing them jamming together onstage in Los Angeles back in November 2009 – is the group’s unofficial ‘fifth member’.
The initiative for the new album came from Joe Bonamassa, who contacted the band members in 2016 to see if they would be willing to return to the studio to write and record a fourth.
Joe says, “I just felt the time was right for Black Country Communion to go back into the studio and write and record a new album. When I contacted Glenn, Derek and Jason, they immediately agreed to give it shot. The timing was right.”
We had a listen:
Although COLLIDE [shared below] starts like a ruthless and puissant hard-rock staple, it’s actually a whirling forge of mysterious Celtic mists and melodic flavors with a fused blues-root guitar at its molten caldera heart.
There’s big groove to be found in OVER MY HEAD plus an unpredictable rhythm. The riff cudgels itself into the furrows left by blazing keys without belabouring the motif. The voice is perceptive and penetrating and the gelatinous guitar slides down neat ‘n’ easy like a trickle of Tennessee honey.
After the mainmast jig, “Last Song of My Resting Place” — by the way, this sounds like something left over from the gnarled and grumpy side of Steeleye Span’s songbook — we reach SWAY with its Smooth Criminal vibe and bumpy yet unalterable course. This number is filled with electric ignition, recoilless energy and some sizzling vocals that fry in the pan.
THE COVE [Hughes is a supporter of the Dolphin Project, an organisation dedicated to the welfare & protection of dolphins ] is full of melancholy mystery. It has deep wallows of guitar and shimmering jumpiness. Even the keys tremble.
Experiencing this is like contending with the sunless and murky depths of an ocean with a sullen state of mind and a sense of abandoned hope. Yet this is also a song about fighting back — never quitting — never losing heart. And so a brilliant head of ghostly luminescence rises from the bottom-of-the-sea-sounds — an extraordinary soliloquy of guitar that speaks of untapped power and repudiation.
And from one spiritual beast to another. THE CROW [who watches over the band as their clan animal] has long been associated with healing in Vedic rituals and in Native American culture is seen as a pioneer creature, a spiritual guide.
The Sioux Indians believe that when the final flood comes — it will annihilate everyone — the crows will raise ghost-dancers to safety in the sky.
This song is a mix of bony rhythms, muscular patterns and eviscerated vocals. The guitar is exenterated from the bowl of the musical piece like an orb placed in a slow pot for ripening.
LOVE REMAINS is a fancy power-metal track about what persists when a body is gone. Neoclassical in style, this will probably remind you of sword & sorcery era Rainbow. It is an agile and intuitive number with a medium falsetto voice that opens-up the heart of the matter like an obsidian scalpel cutting through fresh cadavers.
Closing track, WHEN THE MORNING COMES is about coming home; perhaps to an Elysian setting.
With rivulets of prepossessing piano and an adamant riff, it isn’t long before Hughes’ wild ginger & juniper-berry voice beseeches spiritual guidance to the final resting place. If you’re looking for a progressively increasing rock number with passion and drama flooding through its veins, look no further. And the crystallized explosion of guitar at the end comes with such immense emotion that it will affect all but the cruelest hearts.
Progressive rock, folk rock and hard rock… it’s all here on this classic album.
This is absorbing, intriguing, omnipresent, persistent and, above all, forgiving.
Peerless and superlative. Five-stars.
Words: @neilmach 2017 ©
Main Image: Photo Credit: © Neil Zlozower
Black Country Communion is: Joe Bonamassa, Glenn Hughes,
Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian.