Black Country Communion
13 June 2011
by Amit Sharma
It’ s only been a year since Black Country Communion stormed onto the scene with one of the best records of 2010, and they are already back with their next offering of bona fide blues rock. From the moment you hear the opening crescendo of ‘The Outsider’ it’s obvious this band are oozing confidence at this stage of their career, with no hesitation in producing that often very difficult second album.
Of course, the massive Led Zeppelin influence is still there and even more so than before, with the band stylistically shifting one step away from blues to heavier territory. ‘Man In The Middle’ carries the kind of hard rock stomp you’ d expect from bands like Alter Bridge, giving the band a more modern edge than their debut record.
The production job by the legendary Kevin Shirley has also changed to suit the music, with more low end and compression to compliment Joe Bonamassa’s heavier guitar sound, resulting in a warmer and punchier mix that really brings out the groove of tracks like ‘Smokestack Woman’. He might run one of the most confusing guitar rigs out there, but the result is totally worth it: the tones throughout this record are everything you would expect from Joe – pure perfection.
‘The Battle For Hadrian’s Wall’ sounds like it was written by Page / Plant before you even hear it and given it’ s name, feel and place on the record – the homage to Led Zeppelin (who had ‘The Battle Of Evermore’ as the third track on their best selling IV album) is clear. With this record, Black Country Communion seem to have simplified their formula and through this their music feels catchier and more identifiable than before.
In a way, 2 marks the start of a band that have sweated, lived and toured together and this is more than evident in the actual music. Glenn Hughes’ voice is more powerful than ever, and there should be no surprise it works so well in a heavier context compared to his usual soul based and funk led solo efforts. The hooks feel a lot more natural and less complicated, making the tracks overall more memorable.
Derek Sherinian’s parts are very reminiscent of Jon Lord’s Hammond work in Deep Purple, subtly embellishing the onslaught of riffs and adding new colours to a profoundly tight infrastructure. As with the debut record, Joe Bonamassa sings lead on a few tracks and despite having a less powerful voice than Glenn Hughes, his vocals do well in adding depth and different flavours to the album as a whole. Jason Bonham’ s behind-the-beat approach to drumming echoes that of his father’s and brings an extra sense of authenticity to an already impressive supergroup that lack no credibility whatsoever. ‘Little Secret’ starts off almost identical to ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ and shows Black Country Communion doing what they do best – bringing the magic of legendary 70s music into the modern rock world.
Sounds like: The best classic rock record you’ll hear all year
Top tracks: The Outsider, Little Secret, Cold
Guitar solo rating: 6/6 obvs, it’s Joe Bonamassa
Black Country Communion – 2 tracklisting
Man In The Middle
The Battle For Hadrian’s Wall
An Ordinary Son
I Can See Your Spirit