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Worthy follow-up to a fantastic debut
on 8 December 2008
Kentucky's Black Stone Cherry's debut album, released in 2006, was absolutely fantastic - a breath of southern-fried fresh air with huge riffs, powerful vocals, sizzling guitar solos and wonderful melodies and, I'm pleased to say, their second album, 'Folklore & Superstition', pretty-much continues where their debut left off, apart from, perhaps, being (only very) slightly less heavy and maybe a tad more commercially-minded - I have to say that during the insanely catchy 'Soul Creek', they drift dangerously close to Bon Jovi territory, although Bon Jovi never sounded quite as heavy as this. It may be that this album suffers a little by comparison - the debut was an extremely hard act to follow - and yet, if you had never heard of Black Stone Cherry before, this particular album could be just as good an introduction to their music as the debut.
So, who do they sound like? Well, without wanting to sound facetious, they sound like themselves. Black Stone Cherry have enough of a varied sound and mixture of styles to allow themselves never really to be pigeon-holed into sounding like a copy of any one band. I suppose, during their heavier moments, they sometimes remind me of 'Vs.'-era Pearl Jam, without the downer lyrics or vocals, of course or perhaps even the first Audioslave album ('Long Sleeves', especially). The standout tracks, for me, are the storming 'Blind Man', the radio-friendly light and shade of 'Please Come In', the heavy-riffing dark-but-melodic metal of 'Reverend Wrinkle', the adrenaline rush of 'Devil's Queen' and, perhaps the best track on the album, 'Ghost Of Floyd Collins', which could easily be an Ozzy Osbourne classic.
Other tracks such as the albeit very pleasant and touching 'Things My Father Said', the anthemic 'Peace Is Free' and the perhaps slightly formulaic 'You' do take Black Stone Cherry a little close to rock ballad cliché in musical terms, but, on balance, you would have to say that the lighter songs help to break the album up and avoid an overload of out-and-out rockers, even though it is most certainly during the heavier moments that Black Stone Cherry truly shine. Having said that, I don't want to sound overly critical, because there is nothing actually terrible on this record and this is more than a worthy follow-up to their debut. Indeed, providing they concentrate on their bluesy heavy rock sound and they are able to reproduce the magic they undoubtedly captured on their first album rather than expanding on the more commercial side they have revealed here, this is a band who could easily be a major name in hard rock in years to come.