Review Summary: This lonely train has gone off the tracks.
Black Stone Cherry was one of the bands that had a chance to restore some credibility to the much-maligned genre of mainstream rock. Their first two albums weren’t revolutionary by any means, they were just full of fun southern rock tracks that showed a lot of talent for such a young band. They took the Lynyrd Skynyrd-influenced melodies, lyrics, and guitar solos and added the beefed-up distortion of modern rock and metal to create massive-sounding songs like Lonely Train
and The Bitter End
. Although they’ve enjoyed a reasonable amount of success, they’ve never had that one big hit or that one album that turned them into superstars. Regardless, the band’s drive to create fun, energetic rock and roll has worked out quite well for them so far.
But why play quality southern rock when you can sound like Hinder" Here on the band’s third outing, the influence from their touring partner is all too clear. The three main culprits are White Trash Millionaire
, Blame It on the Boom Boom
, and Shake
. The songs are exactly what you would expect from the titles, attempting to cash in on the bland wave of cock-rock that’s been in style recently. Despite having the talent to do otherwise, Black Stone Cherry ends up sounding like a parody of the genre they were working toward revitalizing. The lyrics have gone from tales of folklore to what you would hear on the latest Nickelback, Hinder, and Buckcherry releases, with simplistic riffs to support them.
Elsewhere on the album, it’s ballad after ballad, and the charm of previous bluesy cuts like Hell and High Water
and Tired of the Rain
is nowhere to be found. It’s just bland, boring balladry, and these songs make up half the tracklist, killing any chance that the album had of picking up steam. Chris’ vocals are still one of the biggest strengths of the album, but even he doesn’t sound too inspired this time. In My Blood
even employs obnoxious vocal effects in the chorus to make it extra poppy rather than just letting him sing. The drop in songwriting quality is surprising given how great the band chemistry was on the previous albums. It seems they’ve already started running out of ideas with only three albums under their belt.
Thankfully, when Black Stone Cherry actually tries to play some rock, they end up with the only decent songs on the album. Killing Floor
effectively utilizes a simple groove, and would have fit in well on the band’s sophomore album. Such a Shame
is a fast-tempo rocker that actually contains an engaging riff, managing to break the album out of its sludgy pace for a few minutes. Change
attempts a similar approach but merely sounds like a weak attempt at another Lonely Train
, with a copycat riff and an annoying, anticlimactic chorus. The only other noteworthy track on the album is a decent cover of Marshall Tucker Band’s Can’t You See
, which shows how well the band performs when going back to their roots.
Unfortunately, a few above-average moments are not enough to save the album. The musicianship that was so entertaining on the previous albums fails to impress this time around. The guitar solos are less frequent and less impressive. Drummer John Young has gone from his energetic playing on the band’s previous albums to more standard beats and barely any of those quick fills that used to add a lot of flavor to the band’s heavier tracks. Frankly, it just sounds like the band isn’t even trying most of the time here. It really would be a shame for this to be the album that gave them the most success, because it lacks all of the fun and creativity of the previous efforts, merely aiming for chart success with attention-grabbing singles like White Trash Millionaire
. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
is a lazy effort from a band that can do a lot better.
Such a Shame
Can’t You See