Released in May of 2006, the debut Black Stone cherry album is, of course well on its way to being eleven years old. Released on Roadrunner Records during the boom in American Metal-core bands, who for the most part took the forefront of metal’s mainstream. (This year saw the likes of Trivium’s The Crusade and Killswitch Engage’s As Daylight Dies). You would not be mistaken for thinking four red necks from Kentucky, playing down tuned, southern rock were somewhat out of place both on this record label and more broadly, in this point in time given the current musical landscape. Eleven years down the line, BSC are, in the UK at least a bigger band than both of the aforementioned Trivium and Killswitch Engage.
The self-titled album is a clear example of a band never really having reached the high benchmark of their first album, of course the four albums that have followed: Folklore and Superstition, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Magic Mountain and Kentucky all have great moments on them, and for the most part are great albums. However, the self-titled album starts strong and never lets up for the duration of its forty-six-minute play length, something which the rest of the discography fails to do. The album features arguably the bands two biggest tracks (definitely one of them) in Rain Wizard and Lonely Train both of which are mainstays in the live repertoire (often as set opener and closer respectively). Although these tracks are undeniable, there are plenty more songs as good, if not better on this record. Backwoods Gold, Maybe someday and Shooting Star are equal parts heavy and melodic all whilst being catchy as hell, and capture the Americana feeling which this album is lathered with.
Hell and High Water is as close as they get to a ballad on this album, which is a straight up sing a long anthem. But the albums finest moment for me, comes later on with the brilliant Drive which has a chorus as huge as anyone could write, a heavy chugging, southern tinged riff and features Drummer John Fred Young’s finest performance to date. Lyrically this song Is fantastic and if given the nod, could’ve been as big a hit as Lonely Train or anything they have done since.
It’s odd to think that this band are a bigger deal in the UK than they are the States, the southern feel which runs through all of their albums, and the previously mentioned Americana themes, are the sort of aspects which usually make for a radio rock hit on that side of the world. But regardless of global positioning this album is most certainly the one which brought Black Stone Cherry into the consciousness of rock fans around the world. A truly great album from a great band whose stock continues to rise to this day!