Black Stone Cherry – Black Stone Cherry

Sunday 22nd June: Up until about a month ago the only thing I knew about Black Stone Cherry was that they were supporting Whitesnake and Def Leppard on their UK stadium tour. Then, one of the less-regular of our gig-goers suggested we see them as they hit York, presumably on a smaller-venue off-shoot of the main tour. A visit to their web-page and a quick read of their bio lead me to think that might be a good idea, so I shelled out for a ticket – the most I’ve paid for a gig in years. But I still hadn’t heard anything by them.

Luckily play.com were selling their self-titled 2006 debut album for a bargain price, so I spent more hard cash and waited eagerly for the CD to drop through my letterbox.

…and I wasn’t disappointed. This is rock of the hard and heavy variety. The sort of stuff that originally got me into buying records and which I didn’t realise was still being played. (A lot of modern heavy metal doesn’t do it for me, I’m afraid.)

Most reviews cite Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd as major influences and, while I can see the former (especially in the tracks Maybe Someday and Violator Girl) I struggled to pinpoint the latter, except in Chris Robertson’s vocals, which do have a distinctly Southern style. To me, at least, a big influence seems to be early Iron Maiden, particularly in the opener, Rain Wizard, which seems to capture the ethos of Maiden’s Run to the Hills. A lot of the album is also vaguely reminiscent of Nickelback (thanks to my wife for pointing that one out.)

Influences aside, though, this is a cracking debut. It’s perhaps indicative of how much music has been put into each track that, when I was making notes for this review, I found it strange that all but one track was closer to three minutes than four in length. Most tracks feel longer and that’s in a good way.

Standout tracks for me are When the Weight Comes Down, with its different styles from verse to chorus; Hell and High Water, an obvious single, slightly less heavy and more commercial than the rest of the album; Tired of the Rain, with it’s twiddly keyboard harmony; and final track Rollin’ On, with a nice guitar melody and keyboard backing. This final track is also the longest at about five minutes and will probably be the stand-out live track.

Being honest, there isn’t really a bad track on the album. If I had to pick a worst it would be Shooting Star, but only for the simple reason that I’m not overly keen on electronically-altered vocals.

So, an impressive debut and, with a new album due shortly, I expect the gig on Wednesday to be impressive. Although, given the size of Fibbers and the potential volume of Black Stone Cherry, it may be that my ears won’t stop ringing for a few days afterwards.

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About Ian

Regular gig-goer in York, both to see local and touring bands. Huge music fan, with more CDs than my wife thinks any one person should own. I also collect American comics, read a lot of SF and fantasy and am a season-ticket holder at Leeds United.
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