I’ve liked Black Stone Cherry for a long time. I’ve enjoyed all their CDs, and was very happy to see them at Rock on the Range a couple of years ago. I pre-ordered Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea, and got the special edition, with three extra tracks. Inevitably, as bands try to keep alive on an ever shrinking market, there will be a "super deluxe edition" in a few months, with a DVD of random clips shot during the recording process, a promo video, a couple of acoustic versions, a cover, and some live tracks. I will probably buy that, too.
I’m sure everyone has heard the single, "White Trash Millionaire." A riff driven rock song, it definitely shows their 70s influence, but only in a good way. The second track, "Killing Floor" continues in the same vein. Track three is the first ballad, but it’s a good ballad, not a Def Leppard style ballad. "Such a Shame" opens with one of the faster riffs on the album. I think these guys are outgrowing the Southern rock comparisons, the influence is still there, but they are finding their own sound, and it’s not all based on the past, or in Lynyrd Skynyrd.
The next track, "Blame it on the Boom Boom," is obvious in it’s subject matter, and is in general an obvious rocker. Starting with a very southern sort of riff, it quickly turns in to a foot stomping sing along rock song. I’d love to see the guys play this live.
I’m detecting a pattern here. Track 7 is not quite a ballad, but it’s a more open, acoustic sort of song. All these ballads have their rockier moments, none is "More than Words" or "Two Steps Behind." The next song caught me by surprise the first time. I was listening to this song that starts with a guitar riff and then ends up being slow, but heavy. I realized it’s a cover of Marshall Tucker Band’s "Can’t You See," again tying them to Southern rock. They’ve really changed this up, instead of just doing it like the original. I like it a lot.
The rest of the CD continues in the same vein, solid songs, riff driven 70s influenced rock. I suspect you’ve guessed by now that I really like this band. However, I will say that what they are doing is not ground breaking. Their style of music is not one that calls for a whole lot of variation. The songs hardly all sound the same, but they are based in a solid tradition that doesn’t allow for much variance in overall style. For those reasons, it’s hardly surprising that the three bonus tracks on the deluxe CD are every bit as good as the main 12 tracks. "Staring at the Mirror" starts with a banjo and goes in to a heavy, solid riff before opening up in to a classic rock song. "Fade Away" is another excellent ballad, and "Die for You" cranks up another classic riff to good effect.
These guys have been around for a while, and because of who their parents are, and how they formed, there’s been a bit of a mythology and some expectations that come out of that. With their third album, I feel like they are coming out of the shadow of their past and forging their own identity, still based on their obvious influences, but not overshadowed by them.