Released: 2008, Roadrunner Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Straddling the lines between metal, blues and hard rock, Kentucky’s Black Stone Cherry returns with its sophomore release, FOLKLORE AND SUPERSTITION and like its 2006 self-titled predecessor, this baker’s dozen of songs is filled with instantly memorable melodies and more hooks than your granddaddy’s tackle box. The guitars are bursting with driving southern rock riffs and the rock-solid rhythm section of Jon Lawhon and John Fred Young fill up the back end with punchy grooves. The record is slickly produced by Bob Marlette (Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Halford, Tony Iommi), too, but still maintains a warmth that really owes to the band’s style. FOLKLORE AND SUPERSTITION has been in my CD player almost constantly since the promo arrived and is more addictive than a crack pipe made out of chocolate. I had similar sentiments when the debut first came out, as well, so even with the second go-around, Black Stone Cherry has captured and held my attention, which is quite a feat in today’s age of short attention spans and most labels’ one-strike-and-you’re-out policy. Considering the cross-genre appeal this band has, it puzzles me why Roadrunner Records doesn’t put more effort into marketing Black Stone Cherry (there must be a few bucks left over from the Nickelback and Slipknot fund, isn’t there?) because they are criminally underrated and underexposed…but that’s a topic for another day. Instead, take the time to feast on the majestic appeal of FOLKLORE AND SUPERSTITION, an album that will surely slip under a lot of people’s radars.
Most of the tracks on FOLKLORE AND SUPERSTITION are powered by the southern-fried monster riffs of Chris Robertson and Ben Wells. Whether it is on “The Bitter End” or “Blind Man,” you can feel the influences of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Guns ‘n Roses, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC dripping from every note. Driving tempos, swampy riffs and big ol’ drum beats pepper the songs and get into your head immediately. The Hammond organ on “Devil’s Queen” gives a nifty nod to seventies arena rock and Deep Purple but even when the band slows down to a mid-tempo stomp on “Long Sleeves,” you’re sucked in long before the talk-box guitar solo kicks in. “Please Come In” is a welcoming smack of catchy old-school rock and “Soulcreek” and “Ghost of Floyd Collins” rock with a swampy groove that will have you thinking ‘gators are nipping at your heels. Of course, the band can do more than dazzle with red-hot solos and infectious choruses, too. Listen to the soaring vocal harmonies on “The Bitter End” or the calypso-tinged “Sunrise.” And don’t miss “Peace Is Free” with its gospel tent sing-along chorus and the sweeping balladry of the touching “Things My Father Said.”
In these eyes, Black Stone Cherry can do no wrong and FOLKLORE AND SUPERSTITION will rank highly on my year-end list. This style of music is timeless and when mixed with the impossibly catchy tunefulness that seems to ooze out of Black Stone Cherry’s every pore, it’s a recipe for success no matter how you look at it. Funny thing is, no one seems to have heard of this band despite having two albums now on a major indie label and high-profile tours with bands as diverse as Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Hinder and Black Label Society. With any luck, FOLKLORE AND SUPERSTITION will change that, bringing Black Stone Cherry the notoriety that such a talented band so rightfully deserves.
KILLER KUTS: “Blind Man,” “Please Come In,” “Soulcreek,” “Things My Father Said,” “The Bitter End,” “Long Sleeves,” “Peace Is Free,” “Devil’s Queen,” “Ghost of Floyd Collins”