Two years on from Magic Mountain and the UK’s favourite southern-tinged hard rockers return with their new album Kentucky. From naming their album after their home state, to recording in their home town and featuring their old rehearsal studio on the cover, everything about this album screams of Black Stone Cherry returning to their roots and fans of their incredible self-titled debut will be grinning from ear to ear!
That said,if you weren’t a fan of the band to begin with then chances are this album is not going to change your mind. However, if you already popped your (Black Stone) Cherry – and judging from their high chart positions and successful arena tours – a vast amount of people already have, then there is much to cherish about their 5th album. Kentucky starts off with the impressive “In The Way of the Future” and it immediately becomes clear that the band aren’t fucking about with their now trademarked sound. From Chris Robertsons’ Eddie Vedder ‘down south’ vocals to ground-shaking riffs, the band are sticking to what they do best which is mainstream hard rock played with passion and panache. “Long Ride” and “Rescue Me” are heartfelt paeans to loved ones – a staple of any Black Stone Cherry album but the sort of song they do so well – and will no doubt go over great when played live while “The Rambler” closes the album in full on acoustic country mode and plays out as an apology to a seldom seen child. Powerful stuff.
So far, so familiar but Kentucky does have a handful of surprises in store for the listener. “Soul Machine” sets itself up as another straight up rocker unti the arrival of some sassy female backing vocals adds soul to the sucker-punch. Kentucky is also home to some of the heaviest material Black Stone Cherry have ever penned; the aforementioned “The Way of the Future”, “Hangman” and “Born to Die” all containing a level of aggression seldom heard and while they’ve always been a heavier proposition live, maybe some of that attitude is now rubbing off in the studio!
First and foremost, Kentucky is an album polished to perfection and Black Stone Cherry have obviously set their controls for the heart of the mainstream with an album that cements them as headlining mainstays. Alongside relatively recent releases by Trivium, Machine Head and Volbeat, the future arena conquerors of the globe have now been definitively joined by 4 lads from the state of Kentucky; we all knew it, Kentucky proves it.
Another top notch album from a group that rarely puts a (Black)foot wrong; Kentucky is number 1 on the UK’s Rock & Metal Album chart for a bloody good reason! 8/10