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Black Stone Cherry - The Human Condition

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The Human Condition

Black Stone Cherry

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Over six previous albums, Kentucky's Black Stone Cherry continued to prove that their hoary hybrid of Southern rock, grunge, post-metal, and hard rock remains vital. The Human Condition underscores their deserved reputation as the brotherhood of Southern swamp metal, but there is immense growth in their creative process. Previously, BSC's recording process always involved cutting basic tracks while playing live on the studio floor. Working in bassist Jon Lawhon's Monocle Studios, the band did a 180: For the first time ever, they meticulously multi-tracked every note and sound. The sonic detail is indeed expansive, but the group sacrificed none of their power or swagger. They also felt a sense of urgency; while recording, the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading exponentially, and they undertook marathon sessions to complete the record. They finished days before the world shut down. The result is a startlingly fresh-sounding BSC album. Opener "Ringin' in My Head" offers muted feedback and dissonance before a bone-crunching guitar riff introduces the melody. Though written years ago, its lyrics are oddly prescient: "People people, your attention please/I need to tell all y'all about a new disease/it's crept right up from beneath our nose...I got a ringin' in my head/My bones are shakin'...I can feel it in my chest...The whole world's been shaken." The jam welds shattering grunge to metal as vocalist Chris Robertson sounds the alarm. "Push Down & Turn" offers scorching swamp metal. Robertson wails about his struggles with bipolar disorder and the band protects him with a maelstrom of overdriven riffs, chugging bass, and John Fred Young's thundering kick drums. "When Angels Learn to Fly" and "In Love with the Pain" are both exercises in the kind of anthemic AOR stadium rock balladry employed by bands such as 38 Special and the Outlaws. The muscular, dynamic production frames infectious, melodic hooks, vulnerable lyrics, and chiming group choruses. The metallic psych in "The Chain" channels Soundgarden in the best possible way. "If My Heart Had Wings" melds Dobro, electric guitars, piano, synth strings, and majestic processional drumming as Robertson heartbreakingly confesses his shortcomings in a relationship strained to the breaking point. BSC's customary inclusion of a classic cover remains in a noisy, slamming, irresistible read of ELO's "Don't Bring Me Down," offered with impeccable backing vocals and the filthiest bass line Lawhon has yet recorded. On "Devil in Your Eyes," Ben Wells channels Sonny Landreth's slide guitar sound before raging into dark, swirling Pearl Jam-esque hard rock. "Keep On Keepin' On" had to close the set. Despite its fist-pumping riff and hard rock vamp, the lyrical melody and group refrain return us to the tragic uncertainty of the present: "When everything that's good is gone, got to keep on keepin' on." The Human Condition's polished production might startle, but it's key to the band's most adventurous, mature, and finely wrought album to date, hands down.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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The Human Condition

Black Stone Cherry

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1
Ringin' In My Head
00:04:12

Black Stone Cherry, MainArtist - Ben Wells, Composer - Chris Robertson, Composer - John Fred Young, Composer - Jonathan Lawhon, Composer

© 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records ℗ 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records

2
Again
00:03:55

Black Stone Cherry, MainArtist - Ben Wells, Composer - Chris Robertson, Composer - John Fred Young, Composer - Jonathan Lawhon, Composer

© 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records ℗ 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records

3
Push Down & Turn
00:03:16

Black Stone Cherry, MainArtist - Ben Wells, Composer - Chris Robertson, Composer - John Fred Young, Composer - Jonathan Lawhon, Composer

© 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records ℗ 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records

4
When Angels Learn To Fly
00:04:33

Black Stone Cherry, MainArtist - Ben Wells, Composer - Chris Robertson, Composer - John Fred Young, Composer - Jonathan Lawhon, Composer

© 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records ℗ 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records

5
Live This Way
00:03:20

Black Stone Cherry, MainArtist - Ben Wells, Composer - Chris Robertson, Composer - John Fred Young, Composer - Jonathan Lawhon, Composer

© 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records ℗ 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records

6
In Love With The Pain
00:02:58

Black Stone Cherry, MainArtist

© 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records ℗ 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records

7
The Chain
00:03:27

Black Stone Cherry, MainArtist - Ben Wells, Composer - Chris Robertson, Composer - John Fred Young, Composer - Jonathan Lawhon, Composer

© 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records ℗ 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records

8
Ride
00:03:17

Richard Young, Composer - Black Stone Cherry, MainArtist - Ben Wells, Composer - Chris Robertson, Composer - John Fred Young, Composer - Jonathan Lawhon, Composer

© 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records ℗ 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records

9
If My Heart Had Wings
00:03:15

Blair Daly, Composer - Richard Young, Composer - Black Stone Cherry, MainArtist - Ben Wells, Composer - Chris Robertson, Composer - John Fred Young, Composer - Jonathan Lawhon, Composer

© 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records ℗ 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records

10
Don't Bring Me Down
00:03:59

Jeff Lynne, Composer - Black Stone Cherry, MainArtist

© 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records ℗ 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records

11
Some Stories
00:03:37

Trey Bruce, Composer - Black Stone Cherry, MainArtist - Ben Wells, Composer - Chris Robertson, Composer - John Fred Young, Composer - Jonathan Lawhon, Composer

© 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records ℗ 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records

12
The Devil In Your Eyes
00:03:31

Black Stone Cherry, MainArtist - Ben Wells, Composer - Chris Robertson, Composer - John Fred Young, Composer - Jonathan Lawhon, Composer - Marti Frederikson, Composer

© 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records ℗ 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records

13
Keep On Keepin' On
00:03:15

Dave Bassett, Composer - Black Stone Cherry, MainArtist - Ben Wells, Composer - Chris Robertson, Composer - John Fred Young, Composer - Jonathan Lawhon, Composer

© 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records ℗ 2020 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records

Album Description

Over six previous albums, Kentucky's Black Stone Cherry continued to prove that their hoary hybrid of Southern rock, grunge, post-metal, and hard rock remains vital. The Human Condition underscores their deserved reputation as the brotherhood of Southern swamp metal, but there is immense growth in their creative process. Previously, BSC's recording process always involved cutting basic tracks while playing live on the studio floor. Working in bassist Jon Lawhon's Monocle Studios, the band did a 180: For the first time ever, they meticulously multi-tracked every note and sound. The sonic detail is indeed expansive, but the group sacrificed none of their power or swagger. They also felt a sense of urgency; while recording, the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading exponentially, and they undertook marathon sessions to complete the record. They finished days before the world shut down. The result is a startlingly fresh-sounding BSC album. Opener "Ringin' in My Head" offers muted feedback and dissonance before a bone-crunching guitar riff introduces the melody. Though written years ago, its lyrics are oddly prescient: "People people, your attention please/I need to tell all y'all about a new disease/it's crept right up from beneath our nose...I got a ringin' in my head/My bones are shakin'...I can feel it in my chest...The whole world's been shaken." The jam welds shattering grunge to metal as vocalist Chris Robertson sounds the alarm. "Push Down & Turn" offers scorching swamp metal. Robertson wails about his struggles with bipolar disorder and the band protects him with a maelstrom of overdriven riffs, chugging bass, and John Fred Young's thundering kick drums. "When Angels Learn to Fly" and "In Love with the Pain" are both exercises in the kind of anthemic AOR stadium rock balladry employed by bands such as 38 Special and the Outlaws. The muscular, dynamic production frames infectious, melodic hooks, vulnerable lyrics, and chiming group choruses. The metallic psych in "The Chain" channels Soundgarden in the best possible way. "If My Heart Had Wings" melds Dobro, electric guitars, piano, synth strings, and majestic processional drumming as Robertson heartbreakingly confesses his shortcomings in a relationship strained to the breaking point. BSC's customary inclusion of a classic cover remains in a noisy, slamming, irresistible read of ELO's "Don't Bring Me Down," offered with impeccable backing vocals and the filthiest bass line Lawhon has yet recorded. On "Devil in Your Eyes," Ben Wells channels Sonny Landreth's slide guitar sound before raging into dark, swirling Pearl Jam-esque hard rock. "Keep On Keepin' On" had to close the set. Despite its fist-pumping riff and hard rock vamp, the lyrical melody and group refrain return us to the tragic uncertainty of the present: "When everything that's good is gone, got to keep on keepin' on." The Human Condition's polished production might startle, but it's key to the band's most adventurous, mature, and finely wrought album to date, hands down.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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