Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM
Everything that Black Stone Cherry do makes it seem that, even above the music itself, family always comes first.
That sense of belonging has drawn in an ever-growing number of fans since the Kentucky natives first hit the road in 2001 and seen them packing out arenas all over the world.
The fact that Black Stone Cherry are festival headliners was both inevitable and totally justified, the four-piece putting their all into every show they play and often being cited as one of the very finest live acts on the circuit today.
A live show would be nothing without great songs and through a string of great albums the band have proven themselves to be fine songwriters who combine classic Southern Rock with a real, heavy duty metallic edge.
This new release adds to that impressive canon, the thirteen tracks therein easily hitting their usual high standards and they manage to sneak in an unexpected, but decidedly welcome cover version into the mix.
With Chris Robinson’s irresistible cry of ‘’People, people, your attention please!’’ and a massive groove kicks off lead track ‘Ringin’ In My Head’ you know you’re in safe hands.
With an unstoppable chug and typically huge chorus this is prime BSC, made for huge crowds to absolutely lose their minds to. ‘Again’ follows in the same fashion, ballsy and heavy it builds and builds, the solo stinging whilst the vocals have a wonderfully sweet edge to them and ‘Push Down And Turn’ is a full-on powerhouse that equally swings and bruises, the guitarwork frenzied.
The album isn’t without light and shade though, as the almost AOR rock balladry of ‘When Angels Learn To Fly’ and Country tinged ‘In Love With The Pain’ fly high, showing that the band aren’t afraid to dip into their own dust covered record collections.
This isn’t the only time the band take their pedal off the metal. Having proven in the past that they can do tracks that drip with real emotion and heart whilst never falling into mawkishness, ‘If My Heart Had Wings’ is another song that bursts and blooms with passion and a tender love that rolls the best of Aerosmith’s ballads into one gloriously perfect package.
Barring these three gentler moments, the album is probably their heaviest yet as the strident ‘Live This Way’, complete with joy filled whoop at the end, a skin flailing ‘The Chain’, ‘Some Stories’ punch and the NWOBHM meets Southern Rock of ‘Ride’ reduce the speakers to kindling.
Fitting in flawlessly with this and destined to be covered by a band who bring the heat, ELO’s ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ is given the Black Stone Cherry treatment and make this a deliciously curveball inclusion by a band who certainly know a great song when they see one.
Closing tracks ‘Devil In My Eyes’ and ‘Keep On Keeping On’ also dip into a rich late 70’s heritage, the former a slice of shimmering blues rock of the type that Lynyrd Skynyrd used to do so well and the latter a mix of Bad Company swagger with the melodic mastery of Cheap Trick.
‘The Human Condition’ once again proves that Black Stone Cherry are a band worthy of the super leagues and natural successors to the giants that once strode like colossi across the planet but now are either slowly fading away or retiring. For all those who have voiced concern about the future of rock music, they needn’t worry, the next generation is right here.
The Human Condition tracklisting:
Ringin’ In My Head
Push Down & Turn
When Angels Learn To Fly
Live This Way
In Love With The Pain
If My Heart Had Wings
Don’t Bring Me Down
Devil In Your Eyes
Keep On Keepin’ On
The Human Condition will be released by Mascot Records on Oct 30. Pre-order: https://smarturl.it/BSC-MLG