Black Country Communion, for those who’ve not encountered them before, are a “supergroup” consisting of Glenn Hughes (vocals/bass – Deep Purple), Jason Bonham (drums – Led Zep, Foreigner), Derek Sherinian (keyboards – Dream Theatre, Alice Cooper, Billy Idol) and Joe Bonamassa (vocals/guitar – erm… Joe Bonamassa). BCCIV is their fourth album, which will be of no surprise if you decode the letters. They obviously got the idea from Bonham’s dad.
Given the usual fare of the band members involved, you’d likely expect something that’s pretty rocky with around 25% blues… and that’s actually pretty close to the mix. Bonamassa’s no slouch on the guitar when he’s focussing on his own music, but this is definitely a step up in tempo for him and he obviously relishes it. Sherinian’s keyboards bridge the gap between the two genres, not that there’s much of a gap given that one fathered the other, making this a very unforced sound.
Hughes is quoted as saying that this album has a “much harder, riffier and bigger and bolder sound [than Afterglow]. If you’re looking for a folk album, this ain’t the one.” He’s pretty much summed up my review. While this is definitely a hard rock album with some great thumping sections, it does have heartstrings (and violin strings), both of which get an airing in “The Last Song For My Resting Place” which does have a bit of a folky feeling right at the end. Maybe I’m nitpicking. The song is actually about Wallace Hartley, the man who played his violin as the Titanic sank. Bonamassa takes the lead vocals on this track as well as (if I read the notes correctly) both mandolin and violin parts.
Another emotive track, though definitely a rockier one, is “Love Remains”. This time it’s Hughes who supplies the singing voice, hitting some surprisingly high notes with an ode penned to his recently departed parents. Playing counterpoint to this is “Awake”, a song about living forever. It’s far more upbeat, but a step back timewise, with a very old-school rock feel to it. Very wibbly guitars (you’ll know what I mean when you hear it) and a catchy bass riff.
I’ve actually skipped over two of the best songs, and they’re right at the start. “Collide” has an absolutely pounding main riff, very blues influenced. Calm guitars, barely restrained vocals… and then the riff jumps in. The kind of rhythm that makes you want to bang your head, raise your fist or bounce up and down. Simple and oh so effective. Second track “Over My Head” is completely different, airy but with a similar nod in the direction of the simple, thumping riff throughout. This one ought to be the lead single, but I’m not complaining that “Collide” got that honour.
So what we have here is, essentially, “not a surprise”. Four musicians with great pedigrees, including in writing their own material, left to gel and progress through four albums as they’ve come to know each other better and better. It’s hardly a shock to find that the final product is so well put together, chock full of both musical talent and emotion.
BCCIV is out on September 22nd – the vinyl edition contains a bonus track, “With You I Go”
The band are playing two dates in the UK in 2018. Tickets on sale now:
- Jan 2 – Wolverhampton Civic Hall
- Jan 4 – London Hammersmith Apollo
Header image by Neil Zlozower.