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Review: "BCCIV" - Black Country Communion

by Andy Snipper,

Black Country Communion (BCC) have been ‘quiet’ for a while. Quiet isn’t exactly true: Glenn Hughes has been away on many other projects, Joe Bonamassa has been touring and releasing album after album, Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian have been busy either with bands like Sons of Apollo (Sherinian) or California Breed (with Hughes) or many other guest or session projects.

In all the time since 2013 and Afterglow, the various projects seem to have conspired to keep the four apart. Last year Bonamassa contacted the other three to see if they would be up for some studio time to write and possibly record a new album.

Says Bonamassa, "I just felt the time was right for Black Country Communion to go back into the studio and write and record a new album. When I contacted Glenn, Derek and Jason, they immediately agreed to give it shot. The timing was right."

The result is so much darker than their last album. More complex and there seems to be a more cohesive ‘band’ sound to them this time around.

Hughes told me a little while back that while Kevin Shirley was still the producer on the album he has a lighter touch on the direction of the sound this time around and the space allowed him and Bonamassa to work together more easily than they ever had before.

He also said that the band were as one in going for a classic rock sound and in this the really have achieved a special and very modern form of classic rock. 

"We had around 4 months to write this album, and I think the results speak for themselves," comments Glenn Hughes. "All four of us wanted to make a record that stood up to the first three albums, however, the new album is more of a progression, as we wanted to be careful not to repeat the previous albums. A lot has happened since we last recorded the Aferglow album in 2013, so, in many ways, the new album shows BCC with a much harder, riffier and bigger and bolder sound. If you’re looking for a folk album, this ain’t the one."

Hughes vocals are awesome – less shrill than he sometimes hits, there is a growl and underlined power to his voice that I haven’t heard since the Purple & Trapeze days. Bonamassa sounds as though he is revelling in the riffs and when he solos there is a musical element that very few guitarists can deliver – it all sounds as though not being the bandleader is allowing his playing to smile and that affects the whole of his playing. Bonham is, for me, the finest rock drummer around today, massive power and no little touch in his playing. Sherinian really brings so much to the sound of BCC and his playing is brilliantly subtle – really understated.

Anyone who dug the power and pomp of the first BCC album will love the way that this one is going. The whole album just screams of the joy of four masters playing together and the songs build around the four axis.

There are so many highspots, from the single ‘Collide’ which explodes with a massive riff and Bonham’s heavy stickery or ‘The Last Song For My Resting Place’ which sees Bonamassa on mandolin and a sailor’s jig in the rhythm but also a dark and brilliant ballad about the band leader playing as the Titanic went down - Bonamassa also supplies vocals on the track and it gives a superb contrast to Hughes.

‘The Cove’ is simply magnificent; a song dealing with the killing each year of hundreds of dolphins in the Killing Cove near Taiji Japan and in its massive power and dark feeling it perfectly captures the desperation the animals must feel.

The album closes with ‘When The Morning Comes’ and, in the words of Glenn Hughes "The feeling I had with this song, was I had woken up from a dream and walked down the hill through the field to be by the water at my home. Most of my work involves themes of coming home to be by the sea. The last song on this album finds me in a safe place, almost like the ending of the Wizard of Oz, surrounded by Joe, Jason, Derek and Kevin. Our brotherhood - long may we continue."

Every track gives the listener a different taste of BCC and I can imagine them all playing brilliantly live – January can’t come soon enough.