BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION – V (Album Review)

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They say that time can heal old wounds and improve the taste of wine. In the case of Black Country Communion, time appears to have done wonders for the band as evidenced by their new, rocking release, somewhat lazily entitled “V.”

The album artwork is a break from the graphical pattern previously established featuring a blackbird. Instead, we get a futuristic sci-fi-looking cover of what appears to be a stealth bomber with running lights flying through dark space with the Earth in the distance. I’m guessing the bomber is meant to be a “V,” representing the album title. Still, in this writer’s opinion, the artwork to the previous record (“BCCIV”) that featured a bird resembling a phoenix rising up from the ashes seems a better fit for this record, because this is a fresher, more swaggering Black Country Communion, than we’ve heard in a while.

We haven’t heard anything from Black Country Communion in a while, since their fourth record was released 7 years ago. That record was a misfire for me, and upon its release there seemed to be some tension between guitar player Joe Bonamassa and bass player and vocalist Glenn Hughes. I seem to recall that Glenn was more eager to focus on Black Country Communion playing out live more, whereas Bonamassa was committed to his more lucrative solo career. In fairness, one must recognize that Bonamassa has achieved the greatest degree of success in recent times than the other members of Black Country Communion, so making Black Country Communion a traveling unit is probably less attractive to him than fellow members Glenn Hughes, Derek Sherinian, and Jason Bonham. The internal conflict may have had some impact on the final product. For me, the songs just weren’t that memorable on that record, with the hooks lacking something that sticks with you after hearing the tunes a few times.

Fortunately for those who appreciate old-school, Zeppelin-ish riff rock, this concern has been remedied on “V.” We’ve got hooks, big choruses, and a cohesive rock record that I’d be comfortable recommending as a starting place for anyone unaware the band’s past output. Bonamassa‘s playing here is solid and sludgy — more rock than blues. Glenn Hughes continues to defy the ravages of time and sounds as strong as ever. It’s almost inconceivable that he’s 72 years old and still sings and plays a raucous bass with so much fire. I’d like to have some of whatever he’s taking to ward off Father Time.

“V” Album Artwork

Jason Bonham’s drums have a fat and loud presence that is reminiscent of his father John’s signature sound, and he delivers a steady performance that is heavy on the pocket but perhaps light on flashy fills. The most understated performance on this record comes from an unlikely source. keyboardist Derek Sherinian, who never met a spotlight he didn’t like, plays a supportive role that offers few opportunities to shine but helps hold the sounds together. I’m guessing Derek would have preferred to be louder in the mix, and while this record comes off as primarily a showcase for Joe and Glenn, it all works out quite well.

Rather than provide a song-by-song breakdown, it’s better stated that this record as a whole has a consistent sound throughout, with songs that in an earlier decade would likely have become staples for kids woodshedding in their garages attempting to jam. There are some Led Zeppelinisms, in particular the “Kashmir”-like keys of “You’re Not Alone,” and or the “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” vibe of “Restless,” but that’s not really a bad thing, as this band surely would admit the influences in the Black Country Communion sound, especially with a Bonham on the skins.

The songs are catchy, the performances are strong, and the production is pretty much what you would want from a record with its sights on doing something rooted in the past well, as opposed to breaking new musical ground. It’s been a long wait for new music from Black Country Communion, but this vintage has aged well and it’s one I’ll be happy to pour another glass of on a regular basis. Cheers to Bonamassa, Hughes, Sherinian, and Bonham! They’ve released some new music that is both familiar and satisfying. I hope it won’t take another 7 years to get another serving or have a chance to see them live in a venue near me. It would be a must-see!

Released By: Mascot Label Group
Release Date: June 14th, 2024
Genre: Hard Rock

Musicians:

  • Glenn Hughes / Vocals, bass
  • Joe Bonamassa / Guitars
  • Derek Sherinian / Keyboards
  • Jason Bonham / Drums

V” Track List:

1. Enlighten
2. Stay Free
3. Red Sun
4. Restless
5. Letting Go
6. Skyway
7. You’re Not Alone
8. Love And Faith
9. Too Far Gone
10. The Open Road

Order VHERE.

8.0 Great

If you appreciate Glenn Hughes’ acrobatic vocals and rumbling bass, and prefer your Joe Bonamassa guitar riffs to lean more rock than blues, there’s much to like on this long-awaited return from Black Country Communion

  • Songwriting 8.5
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 6
  • Production 8.5
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