BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION - Afterglow (2012)
Surely by now most folks have heard about the controversy and tension within the Black Country Communion camp.
It's been somewhat of a 'Cold War' on Twitter between Glenn Hughes and Joe Bonamassa in recent weeks, starting right up when the band finished their third release titled "Afterglow", to be released, to be released on October 30, 2012.
Apparently, due to Bonamassa's hectic solo band touring & recording schedule, he wasn't able to contribute much to this latest BCC release, leaving Hughes to do the bulk of the songwriting (many of the songs were apparently slated for his next solo album) along with some contributions from Jason Bonham.
In addition, the band's lone scheduled concert for early 2013 in the UK was abruptly cancelled just days after it was announced, with no real explanation, leading many fans to ponder whether "Afterglow" will indeed be the bands swan song.
After some back and forth on Twitter between Glenn, Joe, and producer Kevin Shirley, it's not real clear what the story is between the band members as of this writing, but if nothing else, it's drawing a lot of attention to "Afterglow", though the funny thing is, all the drama isn't really needed, as this is an album that stands on its own and instantly reveals its greatness.
There is surely a different feel to "Afterglow" when compared to BCC's first two releases. Perhaps there's more of a 'Glenn Hughes' vibe overall, but as fantastic as those first two albums were, this one has a little more variety, as the songs hit on '70s hard rock, some bluesy funk, and some '80s heavy rock styles.
Opening track "Big Train" kicks things off in fine fashion, a catchy rocker with powerful vocals from Hughes and plenty of impressive riffs from Bonamassa.
A nod to the '70s can he heard on the heavy "This is Your Time", complete with Joe's beefy licks and Derek Sherinian's wonderful keyboard work. Imagine a cross between Humble Pie, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Trapeze, and Deep Purple and you have an idea of what to expect here.
"Midnight Sun" sees Bonamassa delivering some nifty Van Halen styled riffs, giving this hook laden winner a real '80s feel, and Bonham doing his best Keith Moon impression during the closing moments.
On "Confessor", the groove recalls the lean and mean material from the band's sophomore release, as crunchy riffs and thick Hammond organ provide the foundation for Hughes' soaring vocals, and "Cry Freedom" is more of a steamrolling blues rock number, with Hughes and Bonamassa trading off on the vocals for superb effect and Joe nailing it on some sizzling slide guitar.
Things slow down a bit on the atmospheric & melodic title track, a truly remarkable and instantly memorable song that fully shows the wonderful voice of Glenn Hughes. Going from gentle crooning to violent screaming, the bassist gives it his all on this one, a real Zeppelin styled number that jumps from pastoral to symphonic to heavy rocking all in an instant.
Memories of vintage Cactus can he heard on the bluesy hard rock of "Dandelion", as Bonham drives this pulsating boogie machine over which Bonamassa's scorching solos and beefy riffs take center stage.
Perhaps one of the best songs here is up next, the emotional "The Circle", as the band settle into a tranquil, bluesy, proggy atmosphere that recalls Free at their zenith, complete with swirling organ, tasty guitar licks, and Hughes' soaring vocals. This one has a haunting quality that will stay with you for days.
"Common Man" has a riff that sounds a lot like the Rush classic Tom Sawyer but of course if more bluesy, and contains a hook laden chorus, while "The Giver" has some great melodies within a more atmospheric framework, with the harmonies recalling Hughes' work in MarkII Deep Purple.
Closer "Crawl" is a potent mix of hard rock, funk, blues and prog, chock full of Hughes' beefy bass riffs and Bonamassa's snaking guitar lines, as the band go through all sorts of twists, turns, stops and starts. Nice use of Sherinian's chilling keyboard tapestries in the background for dramatic effect as well, and he and Joe get into some scorching back and forth trade-offs near the climax that recall some classic Rainbow exchanges of yesteryear.
What the future holds for this fantastic supergroup remains to be seen, but let's hope the guys can work out whatever scheduling differences they may have to take this beast of an album out on the road.
There's just that certain 'something' that really clicks when you put these four musicians together, and would be a shame to end it all now.
Should that be the case (but let's hope not), then "Afterglow" rounds out their trio of releases in dramatic and near perfect fashion.
01. Big Train
02. This Is Your Time
03. Midnight Sun
05. Cry Freedom
08. The Circle
09. Common Man
10. The Giver
Glenn Hughes - Vocals, Bass
Joe Bonamassa - Guitars, Vocals
Jason Bonham - Drums
Derek Sherinian - Keyboards Enlaces operativos más abajo