Black Stone Cherry are set to release their seventh studio album, The Human Condition on the 30th October via Mascot Label Group.
The release was completed mere days before the COVID-19 lockdown was imposed and as events progressed, it became apparent that the album the Kentucky band were completing, featured lyrics that were eerily prescient.
Recalls drummer, John Fred Young:
There was a real urgency and fear of the unknown during those sessions – it was a scary time. Every song on this album tells a story of the experiences we all go through – our happiness, our struggles, and how we have to adapt.
Adapting is important and while Black Stone Cherry rarely move too far out of their comfort zone of bluesy hard rock, they’ve certainly never sat back and watched the world move on. You don’t garner the plaudits and gain the success they have by being lazy.
Don’t expect a massive shakeup of their sound with The Human Condition and you won’t come away disappointed. This is a fan pleasing release in all the right ways. A ton of groovy rock tunes with that famous Kentucky drawl. Kicking off with the catchy Ringin’ in My Head where the guitars take the lead.
The foot-tapping groove is enhanced for the harder rhythm of Again and choppy riffing of Push Down & Turn. Black Stone Cherry well and truly focused on delivering strong rock effort after strong rock effort.
Although it’s with When Angels Learn to Fly that things get a little slower and more mediocre. A chilled out but uninspired listen that wouldn’t be amiss in a late naughties rom-com.
After that bump in the road, it’s nice to hear Black Stone Cherry recover for a catchier Live This Way and In Love With the Pain. Before the group turn the harder rock knob up a notch for the rollicking The Chain and Ride. Both highlights of the entire album thanks to the urgency and how Black Stone Cherry convey that.
It’s a ballad next though with If My Heart Had Wings and it’s an insipid listen that lacks in almost every department aside from the vocals. Which are as great as always. However, they can’t save just how bland and forgettable this effort is.
Sadly, it doesn’t improve with Don’t Bring Me Down which really looks to offer something different with group vocals. It just doesn’t work and the “woo-hoo” part is peak cringe.
Reaching the latter stages of the album, things could be going off the deep end but happily, Some Stories picks the groove back up for a more exciting listen. Devil in Your Eyes is a classic slice of Black Stone Cherry with good riffing, a strong chorus and foot-tapping beat. Before the excellently upbeat Keep On Keepin’ On draws a line under proceedings.
Long-term fans will no doubt eat this up and for most of its runtime, it’s a satisfying slice of rock pie that most can enjoy. However, everyone so often there’s a sour bite and those inevitably leave a bad taste in the mouth.
Black Stone Cherry – The Human Condition Full Track Listing:
1. Ringin’ in My Head
3. Push Down & Turn
4. When Angels Learn to Fly
5. Live This Way
6. In Love With the Pain
7. The Chain
9. If My Heart Had Wings
10. Don’t Bring Me Down
11. Some Stories
12. Devil In Your Eyes
13. Keep On Keepin’ On
Black Stone Cherry - The Human Condition (Mascot Label Group)
The Final Score - 6.5/10