By: Brian D Holland
Black Country Communion 2 was released on June 14, 2011, just nine months after the initial release by the band comprised of Joe Bonamassa, Glenn Hughes, Derek Sherinian, and Jason Bonham. It’s a positive step when a supergroup releases a sophomore record within a year after the debut, primarily because it shows that they’re still seriously motivated about the overall venture. It’s unusual, as statistics have shown that many of these bands lose interest quickly, and obstacles and personal issues get in the way. Obviously this band is keyed up, which means fans are keyed up too.
Produced by Kevin Shirley again, for Bonamassa’s J&R Adventures label, one listen is enough to confirm that it wasn’t a hurried sophomore production. The music is theatrical and grandiose, and awash with intricate hard-rock arrangements that are powerful and exciting, all possessing the energy of the live arena. Though Hughes again performs a good portion of the vocal work, Bonamassa has his share. Both excel in the harmony department, and the riff flow between guitar and bass is solidly parallel and syncopated, thriving and thunderous. Derek Sherinian’s keyboard mastery has a palpable presence here as well, with ample keyboard sounds and timbres, more so than on the first album. Along with a dynamically fluid B3 sound are those that are more potent and orchestral, and Jason Bonham’s percussive drive is utterly amazing throughout.
Monster licks dominate most of the eleven songs, starting immediately with the opener, “The Outsider.” No doubt a good start, as the thriving metal arrangement highlights the band as a whole: incredible licks and chops, amazing vocal roar, astounding keyboard segments, and thrash drumming. The follower, “Man in the Middle,” is coerced along as well by an amazing twofold riff that’s thunderously bassy and hypnotic. “Save Me” continues in this mold, as does a good portion of the album, all with extraordinary melodies and ever-flowing sonic arrangements that twist and turn with abundant changes. They’re often reminiscent of the extraordinary effort bands like Deep Purple and UFO once put into their brilliant arrangements, as the songs are extravagant and progressive. Though common attributes of music recorded with today’s technology, Pro-Tools and the like, this is a group of musicians who are used to performing intricate arrangements in the live setting.
Standout tracks dissimilar from the aforementioned are “The Battle For Hadrians’ Wall,” which features Bonamassa on vocals. Possessing an acoustic introduction with a Zeppelin feel, dreamlike and surreal in essence, the lyrics focus on the still existing wall built by Emperor Hadrian almost two thousand years ago, renowned at the time for being the most fortified border in all of Great Britain. “Little Secret” is an explosive British style slow blues. Hughes’ lead vocal is passionate and heated. Boisterous and bluesy throughout the verses, Bonamassa then tears it up in an emotional solo. The brilliant sophomore release comes to an amazing close with a passionate ballad entitled “Cold.”
BCC2 is an honorable addition to both classic and modern-day rock and roll. The virtuosity exhibited by these four extraordinary musicians is powerfully exciting and incredibly accomplished. BCC appears to be a supergroup fans can take seriously, maybe more so than the others out there. Not only do they appear to be having fun, they seem to enjoy the extra effort it takes to create good rock music.
1. The Outsider
2. Man In The Middle
3. The Battle For Hadrian’s Wall
4. Save Me
5. Smokestack Woman
7. An Ordinary Son
8. I Can See Your Spirit
9. Little Secret