Black Country Communion | V – New Studio Release Review

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From the outset, Black Country Communion seemed like a one-off supergroup. The group’s four members were all involved in other projects and would return to those after their 2011 self-titled debut album. Afterall, guitarist and vocalist Joe Bonamassa had (and still has) a thriving solo career, while bassist and vocalist Glenn Hughes, drummer Jason Bonham, and keyboardist Derek Sherinian were each embedded in any number of other musical hijinks. Then they delivered a second album in 2011 and played a handful of shows. After a third release in 2012, it seemed that was it…except five years later, a fourth one dropped. Now in 2024, Black Country Communion apparently still has legs. And their fifth release, called appropriately enough V, delivers big on that verdict.

From the spirited opener “Enlighten,” right through chunky pure rockers like “Red Sun” and “Letting Go,” you immediately recognize a grounded intuitiveness and chemistry that only bands with a few miles under their wing have. Hughes, whose pipes can cover a wide range, is reined in and on-target throughout as Bonamassa’s rugged riffs establish the template. Bonham’s drumming is free to roam the landscape — something he’s unable to do confined to the established patterns of Led Zeppelin and Sammy Hagar music. Sherinian tastefully underscores the curves without softening the blows. You can’t help but notice how his clavinet curls up the corners on “Stay Free,” a funky mover that grabs you by the collar and never lets go.

The real beauty of V — produced, like its predecessors, by Kevin Shirley — is its seamless flow and execution. There’s a tight cohesiveness that drives each song into the next. The bluesy easiness of “Restless” functions like a rest stop between “Red Sun” and “Letting Go.” After the build and breadth of “You’re Not Alone” settles down, we’re off to the races with the snap of “Too Far Gone.” All the songs can easily stand on their own; the running order allows them to coalesce in a simmering stew that’s best consumed in one sitting. That’s what the great albums of the classic rock era do, and V follows that recipe to a tee. The final punch of “The Open Road” is a strong indication that there’s certainly more to come. One can only surmise a VI is percolating in the hearts and minds of Hughes, Bonamassa, Bonham, and Sherinian. For the sake of rock and roll, let’s just hope the wait isn’t too long.

~ Shawn Perry

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