ALBUM REVIEW: Black Stone Cherry – The Human Condition
Photo Credit: Mike Rodway
Completed days before coronavirus lockdown restrictions were put in place, Black Stone Cherry are packing a 12-track punch with their latest album. The Human Condition will be the Kentucky band’s seventh studio full-length, with a postponed tour rescheduled for September 2021. But will it be a treat in time for Halloween?
Given the context of the release of the album, the opening track kicks off with the on-the-nose lyrics “People, people your attention please, I need to tell you about a new disease.” Ringin’ In My Head’s fiery sound means business, topped off brilliantly with Chris Robertson’s distinctive dynamic vocals. The track opens the album with the right amount of catchiness and vigour.
The first released single of The Human Condition, Again is electrifying and rhythmic which does an excellent job of effortlessly building up intensity and letting it drop back down to simplicity. Again is a diverse and varied track with a whole range of tempos, heaviness, and pacing to feed your appetite.
Push Down & Turn carries the previous rhythmic energy with flair to provide a track that lets Robertson demonstrate more of his vocal power. The track features a wild rock energy that is littered with melodic flourishes throughout. Lyrically, Black Stone Cherry advocate for seeking treatment for mental health, which is well reflected in the motivational power vibe the track gives off.
The band take it down a notch with When Angels Learn To Fly, transitioning well from the manic energy conveyed from the previous tracks. The song breaks up The Human Condition well by swapping out for a lighter melodic rock sound.
Live This Way amps up the pace with a great riff to introduce the track, which is repeated throughout. The track feels like a signature of Black Stone Cherry’s loud and catchy style. Live This Way is the epitome of a head-banger. In Love With The Pain strips away from the heavy intensity and feeds into a softer rock sound, with a vaguely country influence.
The Chain reignites Black Stone Cherry’s explosive energy once more, featuring some great solos towards the end which fuel the volatile sound of the track. Ride kicks off with the exhilarating and punchy guitar hooks to drive the track, keeping in tune with the band’s hard sound. If My Heart Had Wings sports a raw edge, with lyrics clearly coming from an emotional and personal place. Despite this, the track has an upbeat sound despite it being a slow pace compared to others on the album.
Next, Black Stone Cherry cover Don’t Bring Me Down by Electric Light Orchestra. We particularly praise the band for putting their own spin onto the original track, rather than trying to make a straight copy. Don’t Bring Me Down actually works in the hard rock sound, Black Stone Cherry pulled it off well!
Some Stories initially has a darker and moodier sound, which bursts into the mighty style of the band. It does a great job of establishing a narrative across the lyrics to make for a strong song. Devil In Your Eyes has a subtle emphasis on the drums, making for a welcome change. The track is in between the styles on the album we’ve seen so far, it’s not full blown intensity, but it’s not completely stripped down either. Devil In Your Eyes is slightly laidback but still sports a solid rock sound.
Keep On Keepin’ On feels both fitting and a strange choice for the final track. It has that closing chapter vibe to it, so lyrically it works to conclude the album; however it surprises, as it doesn’t have the boisterous and heavy energy you’d expect Black Stone Cherry to deliver for the closing track.
The Human Condition does wonders at exploring a vast range of emotions, feelings, and struggles. Although some of the tracks do feel a bit formulaic, Black Stone Cherry offer up enough of a variety to keep you interested. The album has enough substance to appeal to the anticipation from their fans.
Standout Tracks: Ringin’ In My Head, Push Down & Turn, Live This Way
For Fans Of: Alter Bridge, Airbourne, Shinedown
Written by: Holly Hammond