The hiatus is over...for those saddened when word broke back in 2013 that Joe Bonamassa had left the supergroup Black Country Communion to concentrate on his solo career, leaving the rest of the band in shambles and unsure if there was any future to be had together, their recent reconciliation was certainly reason to celebrate. The guitarist and bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes patched things up, locked themselves away to begin writing new material, and then called in Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian to pound out a new album with producer Kevin Shirley, with the fruits of their labor titled simply BCCIV.
In the years since Afterglow, the band members have all been quite busy, with Hughes resuming his solo career after the failed experiment with Bonham in California Breed, and both Bonham and Sherinian working on multiple project and tours with other artists, while Bonamassa as always working at a furious pace on his own solo career. All this activity has brought some renewed energy back to Black Country Communion, as BCCIV sees the band rocking hard with some great new material that stacks up well against their previous releases. "Collide" kicks off the album with furious riffing, Sherinian's glorious keyboard tapestries, deep grooves from Bonham & Hughes, searing lead guitar from Bonamassa, and Glenn's mercurial vocals. "Over My Head" sees the band laying down the funk, and again the groove is undeniable and addicting, while the Bonamassa penned "The Last Song For My Resting Place" has a Celtic, folky feel, a tune about Wallace Hartley, lead violinist and bandleader on the fateful Titanic journey. It's definitely a departure for the band, but it works, featuring violin, mandolin, and a scorching lead guitar solo from Joe. One of the best riff-mongers on the album comes in the form of "Sway", a Led Zeppelin inspired rocker with a venomous Hughes vocal and Sherinian's haunting Mellotron and Hammond tones. Of course, expect a slashing Bonamassa solo as well, with Bonham thundering away underneath it all. The dark, slow blues of "The Cove" recalls early Free, with Hughes' passionate vocals taking the part of Paul Rodgers and Bonamassa harnessing the late Paul Kossoff quite brilliantly, while "The Crow" brings to mind Hughes' recent Resonate solo release, chock full of huge bass & guitar riffs and thunderous drumming. The albums longest cut at just over 8-minutes is "Wanderlust", a crisp, emotional blues rocker that contains some great melodies and musical performances, Sherinian's gentle piano working off of Joe's textured riffs and plenty of locked in rhythms, Hughes as alway singing up a storm and Bonamassa delivering a host of sizzling guitar solos.
"Love Remains" is another heavy rocker, but with a passionate vocal from Hughes, part Led Zep in spots but very reminiscent of BCC's first two albums, while "Awake" sees the band dive headfirst into bluesy progressive rock, Derek's acrobatic keyboard lines a reminder of vintage Gentle Giant and Yes, duking it out with Bonamassa at the mid way point and Hughes screaming to the heavens. The textured, passionate "When the Morning Comes" closes out the show, a moody blues rocker with shared vocals from Hughes and Bonamassa, featuring plenty of keyboard flavors from Sherinian and a blistering guitar solo courtesy of Joe.
Ultimately, BCCIV is a very different album from each of its three predecessors, but different in a really good way. There are many varied moods here, the bands willingness to mix things up a bit only adding to the enjoyment factor. All the members are completely at the top of their game, the songs are memorable, and the synergy between them is fascinating to behold. In a time when cookie cutter music with no originality seems to be the norm in popular culture, it's great to see a band doing it the old school way. Black Country Communion are back folks, and have delivered one of the best bluesy hard rock albums of the year!
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
01. Collide (4:07)
02. Over My Head (4:06)
03. The Last Song For My Resting Place (7:57)
04. Sway (5:24)
05. The Cove (7:11)
06. The Crow (6:00)
07. Wanderlust (8:18)
08. Love Remains (4:53)
09. Awake (4:42)
10. When The Morning Comes (7:56)