Review Summary: Consistently strong musicianship and vocals make Black Stone Cherry's debut a real treat for rock fans.
If you’re looking for a fresh sound in today’s rock scene, then look no further than Black Stone Cherry. They mix the down-tuned guitars of modern hard rock with Lynyrd Skynyrd-influenced southern rock. And unlike some modern rock bands who just sprinkle on a few bent notes as an afterthought to a typical post-grunge sound, such as Theory of a Deadman, they utilize the southern rock sound to the fullest and create an excellent sound that’s anything but generic. They pull together their rock, grunge, and metal influences into a very confident-sounding debut.
They’re the rare modern rock band where no member really upstages the rest since each one is so talented. Chris Robertson’s powerful, rough voice is complimented well by his talented companions. The guitarists display strong chops, making the most of their Aerosmith and Lynyrd Skynyrd influences in their bluesy riffs and fills while also proving to be adequate at delivering the crunchy metal-influenced riffs as well. They also deliver plenty of magnificent guitar solos throughout the album. The drummer demonstrates a high level of technical skill for a rock drummer. He makes his presence known throughout the album, playing ear-catching patterns and constantly throwing in fills to mix things up. He locks in with the guitarists to make each song memorable musically.
The perfect example of this is the heaviest and best song on the album, Lonely Train
. It comes charging down the tracks with a fast-paced groovy riff throughout the song. It provides a good dose of adrenaline, and it was an excellent choice for a lead single. The heavier tracks are clearly where the band is most comfortable, and tracks like Backwoods Gold
and Shooting Star
deliver plenty of good heavy riffing. Rain Wizard
is another highlight, being simultaneously one of the album’s heaviest tracks and one of its catchiest.
Even though the band’s strength is typically in the aforementioned heavier numbers, the lightest tracks on the album end up being major highlights. The more melodic Hell and High Water
features some nice bluesy guitarwork, including a particularly impressive guitar solo. Tired of the Rain
mixes in an organ to great effect, and Chris adds more soul to his voice this time, delivering his best vocals on the album. Closer Rollin’ On
is a great anthem-style track, and the shredding solo at the end closes out the album in style. These tracks add a great deal of diversity to the album, and really drive home the fact that Black Stone Cherry isn’t your typical modern rock band.
All in all, Black Stone Cherry delivers a very consistent debut, mostly free of filler. Sure, the formula does get pretty predictable, with the guitar solo usually coming right when you would expect it, but the band continually executes it well enough that it isn’t an issue. When The Weight Comes Down
is a fairly uninteresting mid-tempo track, and Violator Girl
feels like a weaker retread of the fun southern romp of Crosstown Woman
, but the tracklist is well organized, so that the few weaker tracks are just mild bumps on a very enjoyable ride.
Black Stone Cherry’s debut is the sound of a band having a lot of fun, and making some great southern rock songs in the process. It showed great potential for a young band, and is very enjoyable thanks to its continually engaging musicianship. If they were to get the right amount of exposure, southern rock may well rise thanks to Black Stone Cherry.
Hell and High Water
Tired of the Rain