Review Summary: Although the band loses some of the energy of their debut, Folklore and Superstition is nonetheless a solid sophomore effort from Black Stone Cherry.
Black Stone Cherry’s self-titled debut was an energetic southern hard rock album that displayed lots of potential. It displayed strong musicianship from each member, it was fun and catchy, and it brought a fresh sound, mixing the distortion of modern rock with Lynyrd Skynyrd sensibilities. Here on Folklore and Superstition
, the band hasn’t radically changed their sound, just refined it a bit. While it is overall a success, the band has lost a bit of the energy from the debut.
It’s when the band just decides to rock that they get the best results, and it’s the high-quality rockers that really keep the album alive, showing that the band is as musically tight as ever. The drumming is still top-notch, particularly noteworthy in the swift fills on The Bitter End
(this album’s Lonely Train
, for those who like the band’s heavier side). The guitarwork is still a delight to listen to, as the heavy, southern-drenched riffs still have plenty of groove and catchiness and the guitar solos are fun, technical, and diverse. This turns out to be one of the saving graces of the album, as even the weaker tracks are improved by an interesting solo section. Devil’s Queen
is the guitarists’ best work to date, featuring a Freebird-esque dueling solo that lasts well over a minute. The harder tracks are clearly where the band is most comfortable, and they’ve managed to make them more diverse here than on the self-titled, with highlights including the darker Long Sleeves
and the grunge influenced The Key
What keeps the album from reaching its full potential is the band’s attempt to develop their softer side. Folklore and Superstition boasts three power ballads (Things My Father Said
, Peace Is Free
, and You
,) and they are unfortunately the low points of the album, which is a disappointment given how strong the lighter moments were on the debut. These ballads aren’t bad or unlistenable by any means, but they feel very standard, only made weaker by the excellence of the rockers surrounding them. Going softer really isn’t what the band should be doing, since it’s when they do that here that they become the least interesting, although it must be noted that they do quite well with the lighter mid-tempo cut Please Come In
, which succeeds thanks to Chris’ strong vocal performance. His rough yet soulful vocals are consistently a highlight of the album, as he proves again to be one of the best and most unique singers in modern rock.
While Folklore and Superstition has a few weak points (mainly the ballads), it is still a solid sophomore effort from Black Stone Cherry. While it takes a few steps forward as far as diversity, it lacks the overall consistency of the band’s self-titled. The best tracks are truly fantastic, but the biggest problem with the album is the disparity in quality between the stronger tracks and the weaker tracks. The softer side of the band isn’t nearly as interesting as their heavier, riff-driven side. That said, Folklore and Superstition
is still a fun southern rock album that is well worth your time.
The Bitter End