After the bluesy Southern Rock of 2018s rollicking Family Tree and the two blues covers EPs Back to Blues comes The Human Condition (Mascot Records) – out and out hard rock upon which they built their career. Like Clutch, Black Stone Cherry do not make bad albums and this new one – their seventh – is another example of this.
This record has everything you come to expect from a BSC outing, big riffs, solos, heavy numbers, radio-friendly bangers, and schmaltzy ballads. They might not reinvent the wheel but they have honed their craft down to a fine art. The singles pick themselves, as is the case with the infectious pop-rock and ginormous chorus of “In Love With The Pain”. “Again” is more in tune with the album as a whole – Hard Rock with a tasty riff, a feisty solo, and a radio friendly chorus. The ballads – “When Angels Learn to Fly” and “If My Heart Had Wings” – are likable but cheesy affairs full of grandiose melodies, soaring solos, and the “odd” cliche.
They are the exception to what is otherwise an album of amped-up Rock n Roll, like the fiery opening track “Ringin” In My Head” which rages against the fraught state of the world. “Push Down & Turn” is another headbanger with a mean groove, a thunderbolt of a solo, and a message – about being open and seeking help if you are struggling with your mental health, as the singer and guitarist Chris Robertson did. “The Chain” sees Chris raging against the depressingly frequent mass shootings and urging us to be better, to the tune of a hook-filled rocker.
Things are in danger of flagging toward the end with the forgetful “Some Stories” and “The Devil In Your Eyes” – but “Don’t Bring Me Down” and “Keep On Keepin” On” perk things up. The former is indeed an ELO cover and their fuzzy, Southern Rock take goes well with Jeff Lynne”s happy go lucky slice of pop. The former is an arena-sized anthem about being positive, keeping your chin up, and never giving in.
The Human Condition is an honest, straight between the eyes rocker with big riffs, big hooks, and big choruses – and what better way to escape the maelstrom engulfing the world right now.
Buy the album here: https://www.amazon.com/Human-Condition-Black-Stone-Cherry/dp/B08D3YMCGF
7 / 10