Label: Mascot Records
Recorded in a tiny studio in rural Kentucky, Black Stone Cherry’s self-produced fifth album is a seriously thunderous slab of country-fried alt-metal and hard rock. In fact, the foursome haven’t sounded this down, dirty and locked-in since their 2006 debut. The pop hooks found on the last few releases have been all but extinguished, while the band’s penchant for beefy groove-work is pushed front and center. The riffs powering “Hangman” are absolutely filthy and lyrically, Black Stone Cherry find themselves wandering down shadowy corridors: “The Way of the Future” indicts an American political system that is morally bankrupt, while “Born to Die” is a harrowing power ballad oozing with working-class nihilism. Especially powerful is the stomping rendition of the Vietnam-era anthem “War.” When Chris Robertson’s voice cracks on the line “War ain’t nothing but a heartbreak” he sounds like a man who has seen too many friends head off to the frontlines.