Black Stone Cherry - The Human Condition



Key Facts

Country: 🇺🇸

Genre: Southern Rock/Hard Rock

Release Date: 30th October 2020

Record Label(s): Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records


Band Members 

Chris Robertson - Vocals, Guitars

Ben Wells - Guitars, Vocals

Jon Lawhon - Bass, Voclas

John Fred Young - Drums, Vocals, Harmonica, Piano


Black Stone Cherry - Ringin' In My Head


Review
Rating (out of 5🤘): 🤘🤘🤘🤘🤘
Favourite Track(s): Ringin' In My Head, Again, The Chain, Ride, Don't Bring Me Down, Some Stories, The Devil In Your Eyes, Keep On Keepin' On, Push Down & Turn

Given the circumstances in these unprecedented times, it is fair to say that the fact that this album is here for our listening pleasure is a small miracle in itself. Black Stone Cherry wrapped recording of their seventh studio album, The Human Condition, just before the coronavirus lockdown was enforced in the USA. With songs that hit with a strong resonance to this strange, uncertain times we are living through, it emotionally hits you in your very soul, in the best way possible, and gives you a sense of hope that we can weather this storm. It has been quite a year for Black Stone Cherry, from finishing this album and teaming up with Monster Truck to form The Cherry Truck Band, to create Love Become Law, a call for peace and love in the world. There isn't much more thy could have done to make the most of the weird situation, however they upped the game once again, kicking off release day with a livestream concert, Live From The Sky, which was awesome viewing. The band have put out an album tackling some of the harder subject of the human mind. In the most honest and heartfelt incarnation, the band have put together the album we all needed for 2020. 

Musically, the album overall is a primary amalgamation of three previous albums, 2008's Folklore & Superstition, 2011's Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea and 2016's Kentucky. However, there is a little bit of every BSC record in The Human Condition. Packing in raw riffs with honest and thought provoking storytelling alongside some of the more country influenced ballads, there is something for everyone. One thing that really stands out is how much more backing vocals are on the album, we all know that the four of them are phenomenal singers in their own right and they have showcased the power of all four vocals on previous albums, but on this album it is as essential as the guitar riffs. To me it symbolises the coming together spirit of the album and gives the messages in the already emotive lyrics so much more power. The stand out vocal for me was John Fred Young's hardcore metal vocal on easily the most old school BSC sounding song Ride (which can easily be considered as a sequel to Drive on 2006's Self Titled album), it no doubt took many by surprise! From a guitar riff perspective, BSC have always evolved them but remained close to their roots, The Human Condition is now different, we get various vibes from each of the preceding albums which for a long time fan will make you smile. Whilst the its predecessor, 2018's Family Tree, was BSC finding and reconnecting with the bluesy jam band roots, The Human Condition is a return to sheer beast mode riffing with the experience of 20 years of quality songwriting. Even when the band tone down the riffing on songs like In Love With The Pain, When Angels Learn To Fly, and If My Heart Had Wings, we hear the songwriting diversity the band has, with beautifully constructed rock ballads. One stand out song for me is the ELO Don't Bring Me Down cover, we all know how good BSC are at making covers sound as authentic as their original songs, they simply bow this one out of the water, end over conversation. Although the original lyrics is the German greeting Groos, its much more fun to sing Bruce, for me anyway. There is so much heart and soul in this alum that you can't help but fall in love with it, the passion and positive energy that comes as a result wraps around you like a warm hug from a loved one. Bearing in mind that the band took a different approach to recording this album, it is honestly the tightest I have ever head them sound. Everything note and beat has purpose, not only for the vibe of the song but the energy and melodic/harmonic make up. It is evident how much the band have pushed themselves to give us something different but something so quintessentially BSC. Overall, the album is beautifully composed and assembled visiting a bit of every previous BSC record along the way. With everything seamlessly flowing together, with everything going on in the world I can see this album being the helping hand that people need, such is the power of music. 

From a production perspective, I know that the band have been self producing for the last three albums, which I believe has given their music some extra edge, as they know their sound better than anyway else. Recording the album in Jon Lawhon's very own Monocle Studios, it is clear to hear how hard and how passionately the band recorded this album. The drums sound beefy and thick, with the kick driving through every song, almost makes you feel like John Fred has put his foot through it in the process. The snare snaps, but with a nice rounded edge to compliment the more subtle nuances of the album. Whilst the cymbals crash or twinkle through the mix, depending on the song. The guitar tones are quintessential BSC, that thick, warm, fuzzy, valve tone, that compliments the hearty southern rock riffs perfectly. With the rhythm tones being so chunky, they'd be nothing without the low notes underneath provided by the bass. Filling out the low end and expertly locking in with the kick, you get a solid foundation and rhythm section dominance to really give the songs that raw power. The leads soar over all the rhythmic punch, with squealing solos, they're sharp and clear but still have some of that warm roundness in their sound. Overall, the band know what their sound is, and after three self produced albums this shows how fine tuned that sound is. The album sounds tight, warm and punchy, everything you expect from a BSC record.

If you fancy some passionate, heartfelt and emotive southern rock, then let your ears be blown by them fine Kentucky gentleman in BSC and spin The Human Condition now!



Black Stone Cherry - The Human Condition

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