on 7 June 2011
So firsts things first, I'm a huge Black Stone Cherry fan. They're up there with my top 3 bands and so ultimately this review is going to be biased, I'm not going to deny this. Now to the album. At first listen I'll be honest, I was a little disapointed. In the three years between this and BSC's second album the band racked up more plays than anyone else on my iPod and I think as a result of this my expectations were sky high. However, far from not hitting these heights, the album simply took a few listens to grow on me. Now I can safely say that it is my favourite BSC album and I simply cannot stop listening. Heavy riffs and Robertsons simply outstandning voice makes the album infectious once it grows on you, and the trademark slower songs once again pull on the heart strings and get the emotions going. Big chorus's leave you singing the songs hours after the album finishes. From here I'm going to explore the album track by track. If you're not a fan of those kind of reviews then skip to the end where I'll give a brief summary of everything.
So the album kicks off with the first single White Trash Millionaire, which most have probably heard. The main riff is fantastic, simple and strong. For me its Robertson's vocals which make this song particularly special. From the simple way he sings the line "nobody taught me, I was born this way", to his bellowing of the chorus, he lifts this song to great heights and it's a strong opener.
Killing Floor follows on and is the longest song of the album, at only 4 minutes long. The opening to this song is ominous and sets up the crunching main riff which carrys the song along. The chorus is classic BSC, simple and addictive. A great little breakdown following the solo sets the song up to burst back in to top gear. A great track.
In My Blood comes next. This is BSC in fine form, with a chorus which has a real feel good factor and is one that really sticks in your head. Robertson again lifts the song with powerful vocals. A great little solo on this track too.
Such A Shame is track number 4 and opens wth a riff which would fit like a glove on an Alter Bridge album. It then moves on to a Nickelback-esque feeling (not a bad thing in my opinion, others may disagree) as it tells its story of a neglected 'little girl' who meets an untimely demise. A real simple track, very effectively executed.
Wont Let Go next and another clasic BSC feel good track, reminiscent of Peace is Free and You. The lyrics are easy to relate to and as such it is a very enjoyable song to sing along to. Some great backing vocals on this one.
Blame It On The Boom Boom sits in the middle of the 12 main tracks and is an early favourite for me. A track about sex (or 'boom boom') it's very tongue in cheek with a memorable if somewhat cheesy chorus (come on it is rock 'n' roll we don't always need to be serious). There's some brilliant guitar work on this, the track is really enjoyable.
Like I Roll takes off where Wont Let Go left off. A great feel good track again, particularly reminiscent of Rollin' On from the self titled debut. I've no doubt this will get a lot of plays on the iPod.
Can't You See brings back the heavy riffs and Southern blues influence of BSC's music. A great headbanging riff follows the chorus, which itself isn't the best on the album but still remains strong. A nice little solo on this track.
Let Me See You shake next and once again Chris Robertson gives the song that extra bit of oomph for me which makes it really enjoyable. There's also a fantastic breakdown and solo to look forward to in this song.
Stay comes up next and it's another Nickelback-esque slower song which is emotional, much like Things My Father Said but arguably not as strong a song. Nevertheless it's classic BSC and if you've liked everything so far this won't disapoint.
Change is the penultimate song of the standard tracks. The big riffs come back again, with another opening reminiscent of Alter Bridge. The chorus gives a feeling of Bitter End and is another one that stays in the head for a while. Great breakdown and solo left this song in the middle.
All I'm Dreaming Of finishes the standard album and we return to Peace Is Free teritory, as Robertson preaches of dreaming of a better world. Another one that's easy to relate to and the Southern sound lurks in the background. I can see this one being a good sing-along live.
Now we come to the bonus tracks of the speacial edition. First up is Staring At The Mirror. This is a fantastic song, some great riffs and a fantastic chorus with Robertson performing to the best of his abilities. I particularly like the riff that accompanies the end of the chorus, it gives the song so much power. In my opinion this really should have been one of the standard albums 12 tracks, though I wouldn't like to decide which I would drop to make room!
Next up is Fade Away. A great acoustic lead song which once again delves into BSC's softer side. The chorus is particularly strong and once again Robertson makes the song memorable with his vocals.
Finally then we have Die For You. This is classic BSC reminiscnet of perhaps Shooting Star. A great riff once again follows the chorus and really gets the headbanging. Another great breakdown lifts the song and great backing vocals really polish the track. The three bonus tracks are very strong and I'm glad I purchased the special edition, my advise to accomplished BSC fans and newcomers alike would be to do the same.
In conclusion then this album is BSC in outstanding form. Though it took a little while to grow on me as much as it has, I believe it definitely deserves a listen and sitts perfectly alongside the bands oustanding first two albums. Blame It On The Boom Boom, In My Blood, snd bonus trak Staring At The Mirror are particular standouts for me, but the album is strong throughout. BSC are an amazing hard rock band, which this album only serves to confirm. Buy it, crank up the volume, and enjoy!!
on 30 May 2011
"Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea" the third studio album from Kentucky rockers Black Stone Cherry is possibly their strongest collection of songs yet, fuelled with heavy guitar riffs, melodic rhythms and in places some very poignant lyrics.
Working with renowned rock producer Howard Benson, Black Stone Cherry stay true to their traditional southern sound, opening track and lead single "White Trash Millionaire" is a decent opener, but perhaps not for me as strong as previous singles from their first two albums.
Elsewhere, melodic uptempo rockers "Killing Floor" and "Such A Shame" follow in a similar vein, before the fantastic "Blame It On The Boom Boom" shows up at track six, without doubt one the catchiest songs the band has written and should easily be the albums second single.
There's the traditional ballads to boot, a couple of mid-tempo ones in tracks "In My Blood" and "Won't Let Go," but the strongest and most emotional song is "Stay," you'll get the idea with lyrics like "I'd sell my soul just to see your face and I'd break my bones just to heal your pain."
The album closes with the acoustic filled "All I'm Dreamin Of," it almost moves with a slight country twang, a slower song with again some heartfelt lyrics.
If you've brought the deluxe version though you'll get three extra tracks, heavy rocker "Staring St The Mirror" ballad "Fade Away" and one final rocker "Die For You." Although all decent tracks in their own right, nothing strong enough in my opinion to place ahead of the twelve albums tracks.
In summary, "Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea" is an excellent record, full of heavy southern rock with lyrics about the ups and downs of everyday life, it's a record that any rock fan should enjoy.
It's quite short though, most of the tracks just about creep over the three minute mark, no track here comes close to touching five minutes - but I'll take quality over quantity any day.
The phrase "Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea" means an undesirable dilemma, which isn't something you should apply to this record. Dilemma over, without doubt it comes highly recommended.
Best Tracks "Stay," "Blame It On The Boom Boom" "Such A Shame"
on 5 September 2011
Black Stone Cherry are one of those bands that you know exactly what you're getting.
The album kicks off with typical crunching guitars, a solid beat and Chris Robertson's gruff vocals. 'White Trash Millionaire' is very good, it's very structured and quite refined.
While no fan ever questioned BSC's musical ability, if you're thinking of buying the record then this perhaps is the wrong album to really introduce yourself to their music for the first time. You need to get their debut, then their follow-up to follow the transition from raw Southern Rock to mainstream Rock. 'Killing Floor' rips Alice in Chains, from the half-step vocal harmonies to the dark, droning Cantrell-esque guitars (including the hazy middle-eight and the heavy distorted solo). While some may say this is not a mainstream record, deep down, it is. No track (even on the bonus track version which I own) is over four minutes.
'In My Blood' is probably the most mainstream song - but surprisingly one of the best. I really like it and it has a very accessible feel to it while maintaining the classic BSC sound. It's difficult to always get that balance but it's generally managed throughout the record. The solo as ever is awesome and Robertson echoes Slash here for me, which is some compliment! The frontman is a more than able guitarist as well as a superb vocalist.
'Such a Shame' immediately hits full throttle with a fast-tapping riff before a chugging verse opens into a huge chorus. I really like this song too (as I do them all). It's still BSC but not as loud. That's not a bad thing.
'Won't Let Go' is absolutely brilliant. An acoustic guitar starts things off with Robertson's vocals and the bridge brings a great vocal harmony between Robertson, bassist Jon Lawhon and guitarist Ben Wells. John Fred Jones is an amazing drummer (having seen the band live a couple of years ago they brought the place down). You can imagine this song though - BSC are really going for a stadium sound - huge, singalong choruses. It works brilliantly.
'Blame it on the Boom Boom' is very good, I wasn't that impressed at first but it's really grown on me. The chorus is so catchy and that riff just off time just works. It's slick, it's cool and it rocks.
'Like I Roll' is more traditional BSC with typical tales about 'Rolling Stones on the radio' and so on - a typical slightly-bluesy, slightly country take on hard rock music. BSC are the modern-day masters at this.
'Can't You See' is simply stunning, and one of my favourite BSC tracks, not just on this album, but that they've ever recorded. It's heavy, groovy, it's simple yet complex, the solo is excellent, it's got everything you could ask for in a hard-rock track.
'Let Me See You Shake' isn't the strongest track on the album, but most Rock bands would kill to be able to produce music like these guys can. It's catchy and even though the riff is relatively simple, except for the solo which is amazing. This is heavy, dirty Southern rock. And it's brilliant.
'Stay' is a ballad which starts softly but rocks in the chorus and brings a great solo. The standout performance comes (unsurprisingly perhaps) from Robertson and his superb vocals. He has the voice of a man twice his age (it's amazing to think these guys are only in their early to mid twenties). This song is one of the album's finest without a doubt.
'Change' is heavy. VERY heavy. For older fans of the band, think 'Long Sleeves' meets 'The Bitter End' (both off 'Folklore & Superstition) and you have something that sounds close to it. As this song goes though, the chorus once again is the centre point of the song with huge vocals and massive chords. The middle-eight is the stand-out for me personally though as the vocals are so different - and it's so seamless how it feeds into the final chorus and THAT huge riff that chugs along here and there throughout the song. Awesome.
'All I'm Dreamin' Of' is a typical country ballad. It's not heavy at all, led simply by acoustic guitar, a slide guitar, a mandolin in there somewhere and a happy feel to it. It brings the album to a delightful close (at least on the standard edition). A triumphant sound.
However, there are three additional tracks on the special edition. 'Staring at the Mirror' kicks in powerfully with huge guitars before Robertson sings over bass and slide guitar. The chorus kicks in with the massive distorted guitar sound and the backing vocals are a class apart throughout this album (the harmonies are special). Usually bonus tracks are B-sides a band would chuck on for an extra buck, but such is the quality of BSC's music nothing is left as filler, all the tracks are top quality.
'Fade Away' is a slower-paced track in the vein of Nickelback. I really like this track (as I do them all). Yes, this is more mainstream, but so what? Basically all that's happened is that BSC have refined their sound slightly, cut the songs a bit (which is the only shame) and as a result opened their music to a wider audience. The solo here is brilliant - Chris Robertson is an amazing guitarist (I should know - having stood six feet from him shredding furiously a few years back in Manchester's Academy). These guys can really play.
The final track is called 'Die For You', and is the heaviest bonus track. It's also the weakest of the three, but harks back to the AIC sound of 'Killing Floor'. As you think the song's fading in quality, in steps a brilliant chorus to save the day. The breakdown is just sick and the soaring chorus rescues this song.
Overall then, a great record. A brilliant record. A few pointers though - if you're new to BSC and want to get into them I'd recommend you start with their debut (self-titled), then buy the follow-up (Folklore & Superstition) before following up with this. Some fans don't like the change - but there was a similar outcry when Biffy Clyro went more mainstream when they released 'Puzzle' and look at them now.
The problem that BSC have is because they set the bar so high with their first two albums, this was always going to be a massive task to improve upon. I don't think that they've improved on the previous two records but they've certainly matched them.
When BSC had just released F&S I saw them in Manchester's Academy 2.
This November they're playing at the MEN Arena in Manchester, with Alter Bridge (and being supported by Theory of a Deadman).
This album entered the chart at number 23 - something the previous two records would never have managed. Sure, you have to make a few changes sometimes along the way - not everyone will agree, but if it makes you successful while still maintaining your sound, it should be called a success.
And these guys are well on their way now, I look forward already to their gig in November and what album number 4 will bring in the next few years.
on 8 June 2011
I was very excited when I heard that Black Stone Cherry had released a new album and bought it as soon as I could. Having bought the first two albums (and loved them both) I was expecting more of the same - blues tinted heavy rock that is in your face and offers no apologies, foot stomping hard rock fun!
Unfortunately, having listened to this album a good 4-5 times I find that BSC have lost their edge. I remember a few years back I was discussing BSC with a friend and they said that BSC sound 'way too much like Nickelback' which I thought was preposterous at the time, however this album reminds of Nickleback more every time I listen to it. It is radio friendly 'make me lots of money' rock which just doesn't appeal to me. None of the songs get anywhere near the hard rock greatness achieved on their first two efforts; it reeks of an album that was written with the aim of getting mass radio airplay. Nothing wrong with that in essence, the guys gotta make a buck, but it is not my kind of music.
I bought the special edition with 15 tracks but unfortunately none of the songs really grabbed my attention. White Trash Millionaire, the album's opening song, had the same feel as 'Rockstar' by Nickelback, or something Kid Rock would have penned, whereas the lyrics in 'Blame it on the Boom Boom' reminded me of Metallica's Frantic in how disappointed I was with the simplicity of the lyrics (All together now "When I'm giving you the boom boom/Yeah don't wake up in the morning/In somebody else's room room/Blame it on the boom boom" - sounds more like a Britney song).
The songwriting is predictable and the lyrics are, well, basic at best. There don't seem to be the intricacies of previous albums or the lyrical excellence that I enjoyed before. Overall this is an album that will appeal to many people, but I am not one of them. It is a shame really and I hope they will be back to proper hard rock on their next effort.
on 19 November 2011
I read a review of this album which had as it's main argument that this album has been over-produced. I'm not sure what others not affected by this review may feel, but having noticed it, most songs are no different to other post-grunge bands such as Saving Abel or Theory of a Deadman... save for Chris Robertson's unmistakable voice.
The review generally noted that the bass was under-played, but not as much as Ben Wells' lead guitar. I find this to be true - in a couple of songs especially, the solos in particular are quiet and difficult to pick out every note over the sound of drums.
Aside from this, the album itself is very catchy, with a wide range of good numbers from hard-rocking 'White Trash Millionaire' to the driving tune 'Like I Roll' to the metallic 'Killing Floor'.
I would recommend this to a Black Stone Cherry fan as it's still BSC, say no more! But to newer fans, I'd advise buying either of the earlier two albums. Nonetheless this band will go far, and I wouldn't be surprised if this were to become their most profitable album. And finally, despite easily leading the field in the post-grunge/American rock genres, I hold a hope that their next album will go back to their raw, untouched, deep south roots. For the sake of becoming legend.
on 6 September 2011
Yet another good loud album from BSC. Worth buying. Shipping fast. Great Band, so if you haven't heard of them before buy this album you will not be disappointed
on 21 June 2011
"Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea', is the third studio album from Kentucky natives Black Stone Cherry. It is by far the bands most commercial release, but that isn't to say the band has lost any of their southern rock groove. In fact the band have progressed both lyrically and musically since the release of their sophomore effort `Folklore & Superstition' back in 2008. Thealbum, produced by Howard Ronson, has been one of this year's most anticipated rock albums and defiantly exceeds the fan expectation with a mixture of rock ballads and head-banging tracks.
The album has memorable choruses with Kentucky fuelled riffage helping it surpass the standard of common mainstream rock radio, especially with the track 'Like I roll'. `Like I Roll' is a musical work of art, with the a feel good chorus and upbeat tempo, it's a song to roll down that sunroof, crank up the car stereo and drive down the open road.
Black Stone Cherry has developed musically and lyrically, although touched on a mainstream radio sound, with the injection of groove cutting rock riffs the band holds on to their signature southern sound with this third studio release.
on 3 June 2011
Ok, I'll admit when I first listened to this album, I wasn't particularly impressed,
I wasn't impressed because it is 'Lighter' than their previous releases. The opening track "White Trash Millionaire" is a crunching opening song, I love it. it has a distinct Black Label Society feeling about it, Other tracks I particularly enjoy are: "Blame It On The Boom Boom", "Such A Shame", "Killing Floor", "Can't You See", "Let Me See You Shake".
"Change", the latter deserves a mention as the opening part of the song definitely sets this down as the continuation of the bands self titled 2006 release's "Lonely Train".
The album is good from start to finish, competently played as it should be ,
my only gripes about the album is that some of the tracks definitely have a generic nothing new feel about them, this is the only stumbling block for the album. Also it sounds as if the previously brilliant drumming by John Fred Young has been reigned in a bit too much and is a bit boring at times,
A very good album overall though.
on 5 June 2011
I have always quite liked BSC but the earlier albums seemed to consist of some great tracks but a lot of filler. But this is not only the strongest release by this band, but one of the best releases this year so far.
The real charm to this album is that they have made their most memorable album, filled with non-stop killer tracks, but it is also by far the heaviest album they have released. There southern tinged sound is stronger than ever, and even the ballads such as "Stay" work because there is so much emotion invested into them. But All I'm Dreamin' Of is an incredible song that builds though out an almost claustrophobic atmosphere to an abrupt climax that somehow leaves you wondering where they will evolve to next. While the bonus tracks here are very good, they don't seem as strong as the main albums tracks, but none the less are great sing along tunes. I look forward to hearing where they go next, but if the strength of this album is a shape of things to come, things are looking very bright for BSC indeed
on 31 May 2011
BSC's first two studio albums were almost identical in terms of consistency, originality and sound. Both were filled with rich, hard-hitting guitar riffs and fantastically soulful vocals. The band managed to get over the hump of the ominous second album, a stumbling block for many. Crack the second album and you're probably the real deal. There are few rock bands out there today that can sustain that progress into a third album, but BSC have done just that. This album delivers on every front, the riffs are heavy, the content is original and the sound picks up exactly where the last album left off. One could shuffle the content of all 3 albums and nothing would be out of place.
The listener is sucked into the groove about 10 seconds after pressing the play button, "White Trash Millionaire" immediately emerges has an anthem and you will struggle not to bang your head to the beat of this track. Other stand out tracks are "Killing Floor", "Such a Shame" and "Blame it on the Boom Boom". It is clear that the band has put a lot of work into this album, not only with regards to inception, the post-production is first class as well. There is virtually no fat - every riff, every solo and every lyric warrants it's place. Frankly the band couldn't have done a better job with the follow up considering the quality of the first two albums. They have also managed to evolve ever so slightly without negatively impacting their style - Chris is somewhat more experimental and pushes himself to the edge and there are more backing vocals than on previous creations which also add to the feel of a very polished product, however none of that trade mark original raw colourful rock sound has been lost.
This album re-confirms BSC as one of the best rock bands on the planet today, and arguably one of the most under-rated. Let's hope there are plenty more like this on the way. Buy this album, press play and see how long you manage to hold on for before you crank up the volume and relentlessly bang your head along to the sound of John smacking that snare.