'Magic Mountain' is the fourth album by the Kentucky rockers Black Stone Cherry and the follow up to the highly successful 'Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea'
Positives: I judge albums on a few criteria. Sound and Production, quality of songs, appeal and repeatability. Black Stone Cherry have always used great producers and this album is no different. The album sounds fantastic. It's well mixed, loud, and consistent with the previously released material but also has a slightly retro feel that obviously comes from the bands wide range of southern and county influences. BSC have the right balance of a loud modern metal sound and vintage classic rock but don't suffer the problem of trying to be clones of bands of the 70s (cough cough Rival Sons) they have developed their own unique blended sound. The guitars in particular sound brilliant on this album. They're loud, fuzzy and squeal and pop like a true guitar should. They're not polished and compressed to death like you get with a Nickelback or Avenged Sevenfold album. They have room to breathe.
High quality written songs is what we have come to expect of BSC. We get a nice mix of heavy foot stompers, powerful ballads and county rockers. A lot of the songs relate to the troubles that Chris Robertson has been going through and that really gives them some strong meaning. Other songs are just about the good old stuff... smoking weed, drinking and getting laid. You can't go wrong with that! We get the expected big sing-along choruses and catchy riffs that will fit perfectly in with their previous material especially in the live setting. Highlights of the heavy songs for me include Holding On...to Letting Go, Never Surrender, Fiesta del Fuego and Dance Girl. Out of the more mid paced and county inspired songs Hollywood in Kentucky and Remember Me are my personal favourites. But this album contains something I believe to be very special...
Easily the next Peace is Free or Things My Father Said. Quite simply one of the best ballads they have ever written. Chris sings with so much emotion that you really feel the pain of what he's feeling. "Sometimes I wish I could just rewind, Cause through all the tears I still want you hear with me" Brilliant stuff.
Because BSC have mastered their combination of heavy metal, southern rock and county they do have massive appeal and I would recommend this album to any rock or metal fan. They do have such great crossover appeal. Songs like Never Surrender could easily be shown on Scuzz alongside the likes of Slipknot and at the same time Hollywood In Kentucky could be played on county radio. Their widespread appeal is best shown here in the UK. We have taken them in as our own and after their last sold out tour and headline spot in front of 40,000 people at Download festival they're coming back on their first ever headline arena tour!! Not bad for four lads from Kentucky. Both rock and metal fans can easily like this band, hell even county fans will like some of their stuff.
As for repeatability I think this album is strong enough to stand the test of time. The tracks are strong enough that you want to listen to them over and over again. It's definitely not a play once and forget album.
Negatives: There are honestly not a lot of negatives to take from this album. No it's not the next Back In Black or Appetite for Destruction and time will only tell if songs like Me & Mary Jane or Dance Girl etc will be become anthems like Lonely Train, Blind Man or Boom Boom. Black Stone Cherry are not the next Led Zeppelin lets be realistic here. They're bloody good but not quite at that level.
Overall Magic Mountain is a strong mature album from a band who have now perfected their craft of making really catchy meaningful rock songs. So far it is easily the best rock album of 2014 and it will have to take something special to beat it. Black Stone Cherry are a band that every rock fan can enjoy and Magic Mountain is a stellar addition to their already fantastic bank of material. I look forward to seeing them in October.