Rock supergroup Black Country Communion returns with new album

Rock supergroups, by default, are not intended to be long lasting projects. Designed more as a side gig in between the main bands of the individual members, most usually break up after their second or third album.

One such supergroup is Black Country Communion. Originally founded in 2009, this Anglo-American band aims to deliver the type of heavy blues rock associated with bands like Bad Company, Cream and Led Zeppelin, and they have quite the roster to back that mission up.

Lead vocalist and bass guitarist Glenn Hughes certainly has the most diverse resume of all the members. From his wide vocal range that covers genres from funk to metal, to his stints in bands like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Trapeze, Hughes has the deepest foundations in classic rock and is a natural choice for a frontman.

Guitarist Joe Bonamassa is a fairly recent musician compared to Hughes. However, if his chops are anything to go by, his love for blues rock is more than enough to make him the perfect choice for guitarist.

While Hughes and Bonamassa are unquestionably the leaders of the band, drummer Jason Bonham is actually something of a lynchpin.

For a band that recreates the classic rock sound, what better choice than the man who is not only the son of drumming legend John Bonham, but is also the one drummer that the surviving members of Led Zeppelin have consistently called upon to play at their sporadic reunion concerts.

Keyboard player Derek Sherinian seems like the odd man out at first glance. In contrast, he is mainly associated with progressive rock, a genre that is far more technical compared to blues rock.

But considering he is also a virtuoso electric organ player, it is understandable why they would include him to round out the band.

The band released three studio albums during its initial run, each filled with raw and explosive hard rock. Around 2013 however, mounting tensions between Hughes and Bonamassa led to an abrupt breakup. Both musicians eventually reconciled and went to work on their long-awaited comeback album with the other two members in tow.

After a year in the studio, the new album, aptly named BCCIV, has finally been unleashed to a hard rock starved audience.

Reunion albums will always have difficult expectations to live up to. Some meet them, while others kind of fall short despite being good on their own merits.

With BCCIV, the band has not only made an album that stands alongside its initial output, but actually manages to surpass it in quality at times.

Rather than just remake the first album, the band wanted to show how much it has progressed since last recording together, and as a result, the album really does feel like a true follow up, rather than a simple cash grab.

This is evident from the first track “Collide.” It has all the trappings of the band’s best songs, but spices things up with new touches like guitar distortion during Bonamassa’s solo.

Hughes and Bonham’s bass guitar and drum sounds have also noticeably improved, with the latter sounding more like his father’s raw and thunderous sound. While the hard rocking blues are still very much present in all the songs, the band decided to get creative and experiment with different types of music.

The tracks “The Crow” and “Awake” see the band indulge with elements of funk music. “The Last Song For My Resting Place,” the only song to feature Bonamassa on lead vocals, mixes in mandolins and fiddles to illustrate the story of a violinist on the Titanic.

Surprisingly, the band also includes not one, but two new ballads in the album. The first, “Wanderlust,” is largely driven by Sherinian, who puts aside the organ in favor of a grand piano, giving the album a nice change of gears that manages to fit in with the rest of the songs.

The lyrical themes of BCCIV lean very much on the personal and introspective side, more so than any previous album. Many of the songs revolve around subjects like death, brotherhood and faith.

One song in particular, “The Cove,” covers a topic that most musicians have yet to address: the mass slaughter of dolphins in Asia. Considering that Hughes is a member of The Dolphin Project, this is a subject that holds very personal meaning to him.

The closing track, “When the Morning Comes,” is a semi-autobiographical ballad that almost relays the experience of bringing the band back together.

As far as reunions go, Black Country Communion’s return was not only a nice surprise, but one that was well worth the wait. Hopefully the band will stage a full world tour in support of its new album.