It hardly seems fair on the opposition does it? The wild power and soul of Glenn Hughes remarkable voice and fluid and intricate bass that can make you weep at one minute and bleed the next; Joe Bonamassa, the guitarist of his generation, with all his force, feel and tone; Jason Bonham, son of the late great John’s exemplary skin bashing and sticksmanship; and Derek Sherinan’s deft and assured keys that can transport you in an instant. As i said it’s hardly fair on the opposition is it?
Listening to Black Country Communion’s latest offering ‘BCCIV’ is akin to a religious experience. It’s monumental and grand work, bludgeoning at times, and expansive at others, full of power and passion, as well as a ‘shed-load’ (as my mate used to say to denote abundance) of heavy riffs, massive and meaty hooks, and enough melodies to make a minstrel weep. And it gets better with each play.
BCCIV is an album that if you left it overnight sat on your shelf with some of your other records, in the morning you just might find the rest on the floor, jumping off to avoid comparison, or save themselves from having to put up with the cocky brilliance of BCC’s fourth.
It’s an album that also starts as it means to go on, and one which goes on as surefootedly as it began till the last note rings out from the closing track ‘When the Morning Comes’ which at 7:56 is only the third longest track on an album that mixes the commercial nous of Bad Company with the epic gesticulations of Led Zeppelin and displays a real understanding of what made both bands so special.
Opener ‘Collide’ is all about the sudden impact and the riff, a song with a riff written by Hughes and finished by Bonamassa on the first day of recording – it sets a cracking pace and allows each of the four BCC members to display their impressive individual chops, which of course are all the more impressive collectively. There are a number of other rockers of course on ‘BCCIV’ from the highly commercial stomp of ‘Over My Head’ to the Classic Rock of ‘Sway’ and the sweeping emotion of ‘Love Remains’ which Hughes wrote as a tribute to his father who sadly passed away this year: and whilst the rockers are all more than impressive it’s the more expansive tracks that leave you in awe.
Of those epics Bonamassa’s ‘The Last Song For My Resting Place’ with its Celtic notes, mandolin and fiddle and dark centre, is wondrous, enticing and beautifully full and rich in its 7:57 skin. And if you enjoyed that one ‘The Cove’,Bonamassa’s paean to the dolphin which comes just a few tracks later will have you shaking your head in disbelief – it’s an incredible rendering, full of power and passion before being set fully alight by Joe’s guitar.
The longest track on the album though at over eight minutes, and the one that draws on so much rock history, ‘Wanderlust’ is a song with an upbeat opening bluesy groove before the hard rock kicks in, and that in turn is swallowed by a beautiful Beatles-like chorus and a soulful stab of guitar. Initially its not the sort of song you think will break the mould until the solo slices it in two at three minutes and Hughes scream at six before the second solo kicks in. Man this is fun.
The album closes with two songs that kind of sum this very focused and immensely rewarding album: the beautifully honed solid rock of ‘Awake’ and the cascading beauty and delicacy of ‘When the Morning Comes’ which rides a great Bad Co-like groove and takes it into the stratosphere – it’s heady stuff indeed.
I’ll end with a quote from the Voice of Rock himself who said of BCCIV “I wanted the new album to physically shake your soul. It’s a wake up call.” It’s also the best of BCC so far in our humble opinion.