Black Stone Cherry – Review

blackstonecherry200Black Stone Cherry

by Brian Varney

As far as I know, this is the first Black Stone Cherry release. I know nothing about the band’s history, but the sound of this band is akin to a sort of science project, a record exec’s idea come to life. BSC really does seem at first glance like someone tried to make a radio-friendly Black Label Society by toning down the aggression, lowering the metal quotient, throwing big hooks into everything, and prettying up the fellas holding the instruments.

Though your average undergroundist music geek will wince and kick back almost reflexively at such a description, I didn’t automatically assume this record would be terrible. I’m geekier than most, but I don’t necessarily think commercial = bad. If commercial means better songs and better recording, I’m all in favor of that. And, make no mistake, this is a good-sounding record. Tones are thick, the drums sound huge and powerful, and, most surprisingly, the vocals aren’t too loud.

Despite everything in its favor, I can’t confess to getting much enjoyment from this record. I think my single biggest problem is the vocals, which are flat, not particularly expressive, and, no matter how much doubling and studio trickery is used, kinda grating after a few songs. Though I like the terrain the band is charting, which is best described as some sort of intersection of Black Label Society, Wiseblood/Deliverance-era C.O.C., and the Southern butt-rock moments from the first Black Crowes LP, I can’t really say that any of these 13 songs managed to stick with me for very long.