Black Country Communion are; Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple and Trapeze) on vocals and bass, Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin and Foreigner) on drums, Derek Sherinian (Dream Theatre, Alice Cooper and Billy Idol) on keys and Joe Bonamassa on guitar and vocals. “BCC IV” was mixed and produced by Kevin Shirley, who has an impressive back catalogue of his own (Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, Journey amongst others). In fact, it was due to Kevin Shirley seeing Joe Bonamassa and Glenn Hughes jamming together that the band was created.
“BCC IV” forces itself into existence with “Collide”, with its heavy Led Zeppelin influence. The drumming is mesmerising, and a deep, sonorous bass line reinforces the Zep vibe. This is the kind of track that deserves to be played on the radio, and probably why this is the lead single. Here, Joe really sets the scene for the guitar playing for the rest of the album, which is immense and vibrant. “Over My Head” is one of those tracks which keeps you on your toes, from the changes in tempo and texture, to the staccato feel of the drums and bass. There are skewed riffs by the bucket load eloquently floating above the maelstrom of the rhythm section. Moving from a dark, brooding place into the chorus of light, this track is certain to appeal. Inspired by Wallace Hartley (who was the violinist and band leader on the Titanic) “The Last Song For My Resting Place” has more than a passing echo of times gone by, with its references to traditional Irish music, manifesting themselves in the mandolins and fiddles. Joe is a man who knows how to make a guitar sound like a violin, which he does to great effect here. Deep and rich, there is a menacing feel to the mid section, It’s also the only track on the album to be sung by Joe.
“Sway”, with its thundering drums and rhythmic bass, is a sensuous and passionate track. Again, it has instantly recognisable Zep overtones, but this does not detract from the finery going on here. A powerful and moving track, performed with a stunning level of mastery. The guitar work from Joe is simply sublime, and the driving bass pulls you deeper and deeper into the track. There are dark overtones from the first chord to the climactic end, with the keys adding droplets of melancholy. Glenn is involved with the Dolphin Project, and was inspired by his love of Dolphins to write “The Cove”. This is a brooding and emotional song which ebbs and glides, much like a Dolphin cutting through water. The emotion is palpable, with Joe managing to convey the trauma and beauty with his intense playing, building up to a tumultuous end. “The Crow” is back to rock ‘n’ roll. With its powerful bass intro, this track builds up massively, combining angular, beautiful riffs from Joe. The keys add an additional layer of texture, with the drums bringing balance and interest. This is a full on, hard and heavy track, and is sure to delight. I would love to see this played live, as I can imagine the brooding intensity that would be created.
Lighter in texture and tone is “Wanderlust”, where again Black Country Communion make it all seem so effortless. Joe plays catchy, infectious hooks over the driving bass line. Derek’s grand piano adds beautiful lifts. This is a track filled with swagger, combining elegant drumming with spacey, groove-laden riffs, which climb and soar over the whole track. “Love Remains” was inspired by the passing of both of Glenn’s parents. He describes this track as having a simple content “When the last breath is taken only love remains.” This track is not overly sentimental though. The sludgy bass and shimmers from the cymbals drive this on to another place. “Awake” is a prog-tastic track, filled with loads of intense, twiddly guitar tones, combined with a powerful tune. The vocals are filled with grit, and Joe displays his awesome playing to massive effect. This, for me, was one of the stand out tracks, showing real depth and intrigue. The initial catchy hooks build into a many-stranded, rich 4 minutes and 42 seconds that you will want on repeat for a long time. “When The Morning Comes” was inspired by a dream, and certainly has an ethereal quality, from the initial keys to the acoustic guitar. The bass weaves it magic, flowing round the other sounds, enhancing, never detracting. This is a mesmeric track that has the right amount of depth to retain your interest.
“BCC IV” is an album that is packed full of goodies. There will be something to appeal to most people here. From Blues, through Prog, to Rock, this is an album created by musicians who more than know their craft, they are at the top of their game. Everyone gets to shine here.
Black Country Communion “BCC IV” is released on 22nd September 2017, available on CD, 180g vinyl, and digital download. There is a bonus track on the vinyl edition only. Black Country Communion are also set to play two exclusive European shows at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall on 2nd January 2018 and London Hammersmith Apollo on 4th January 2018. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster and Eventim.
Review: Samantha Lamb
Band image: Neil Zlozower