The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world




MAY 6 2014



Black Stone Cherry is one of those bands that promised so much with their first few albums and over the last eight years had put out three strong statements of intent that have won them many fans especially in the UK and Europe, where if anything they are even more popular than at home.


Fourth outing "Magic Mountain" sees the band sounding a little like they are going through the motions, and in its thirteen tracks displays the kind of creeping malaise that seems to be rampant in modern hard rock. In truth and I’m so sad to say this Black Stone Cherry is starting to sound like every other Modern Hard Rock outfit out there – formulaic and, well… dull in places. That’s not to say you should write this one off completely though as there are still a few moments when the old spirit manages to push through.


One of those moments is on opening track ‘Holding on… to Letting Go’ which is refreshingly heavy and although it may well sound like you’ve heard it all before at least ticks a lot of boxes, and has a huge ‘solo’ to boot. ‘Peace Pipe’, ‘Bad Luck and Hard Love’ and ‘Me and Mary Jane’ that follow dent that initial expectation a little in that they sound so ‘by-numbers’. While bands like Northern Ireland’s The Answer who plough similar territory sonically continue to grow and expand it feels like BSC are looking at the same song template again and again and deciding how they can do it slightly better or slightly differently. You can sympathise with the dilemma – getting to where they are now has been hard work and what has gone before has served them well so a radical rethink looks unlikely but surely doesn’t cut out all experimentation?   


Songs like the ballad ‘Runaway’ just don’t have any distinguishing features that make it stand out from the thousand other obligatory ballads on every Hard Rock album, but then the title track ‘Magic Mountain’ kicks in with a decent chorus, great solo and nice driving riff. It’s songs like ‘Never Surrender’ though that I had hoped for more of here – it’s the one song here that sounds truly inspired and has you wondering where the band was at when it wrote this and why there aren’t any similar moments. Taking a cue from Alter Bridge it’s a song with a great life-force and a Soundgarden sheen that somehow breathes more life into than anything else here.   


In truth the album does close strongly, though I half suspect that as a fan of the band I’m just feeling comfortable. ‘Blow My Mind’ has a low-key intro and Southern edge and great swagger that reminds you of all these guys have done well over the years; ‘Sometimes’ the second ballad is also far superior to ‘Runaway’ and in its stripped back delivery has an honesty that may be another way back to move forwards. ‘Fietsa Del Fuego’ is perhaps my pick of the album though with a down and dirty vocal contrasting nicely with a clean radio refrain and some inspired guitar – a great song that just has that twist that so many tracks here sidestep.


Closing the album even the stripper anthem ‘Dance Girl’ just sounds OK without the groove or the belief to make it memorable; ‘Hollywood in Kentucky’ the Country song here is truly awful, like a 5th rate Aerosmith ballad; and closer ‘Remember Me’ won’t have you remembering it for long, it’s acceptable but for a lesser band than BSC, one who will settle for Nickelback-like safety.     


Admittedly for everyone out there who slates this release (and I’ve seen a few reviews that pan the album but largely those reviews feel like an attack on Hard Rock and actually on the elements of BSC I truly love!) I imagine twice as many people will love it. Fans of previous work I presume take it either as more of the same or embrace it with open arms. For me this is not the best BSC has produced but man that guitar at times is inspired!



by Mark Rockpit