ALBUM: Black Stone Cherry – Magic Mountain

Release Date: May 6th, 2014
Label: Roadrunner Records


Clambering to the upper echelons of mainstream rock music for some time now, Black Stone Cherry in 2014 sit toe-to-toe with their world beating contemporaries. The Kentucky quartet’s knee slappin’ southern charm has more than struck a chord within the titanic sphere of FM radio commercialism, yet fourth full-length effort ‘Magic Mountain’ sees the band scale new songwriting peaks with a decidedly iron cast spike of metallic thunder thrust through their foot stomping, tuneful barn stormers.

The thick swagger groove and whiskey soaked strut of opener, ‘Holding On… To Letting Go’, sets the tone flawlessly. From here on out the highlights are numerous, with the wah drenched introduction of ‘Bad Luck & Hard Love’ calling to mind the funk soul of Jimi Hendrix before giving way to a heaving riff work out, lead single ‘Me And Mary Jane’ delivering its timeless chorus hook, and the sledgehammer guitars (not to mention a fantastic, almost improvised sounding jam to round things off) of ‘Fiesta Del Fuego’, cementing the fact that not only is ‘Magic Mountain’ as heavy as Black Stone Cherry have ever been, but also as dynamically audacious.

It’s not all good news, however, the understated thud of ‘Dance Girl’ coming across as a touch limp and a leaden ‘Blow My Mind’ being too meat-and-potatoes for its own good. Yet, with the likes of ode to Lynyrd Skynyrd balladry ‘Hollywood In Kentucky’ and the full throttle ‘Never Surrender’ there to buffer these rare missteps, we soon forgive and forget.

‘Magic Mountain’ succeeds on its willingness to forgo churning out the by numbers, hard rock textbook, injecting both a righteous bite and grandstand attitude into their established formula. The widescreen chorus refrains remain tailor made for crowd pleasing participation, yet this is a record which relies on so much more than ear worm hooks and singalong vibes to fully engage.

Written by Tony Bliss

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