Review by Harry Paterson
The flame that burns twice as bright, burns only half as long. As apt an epitaph for Black Country Communion as any that one could find.
Three albums in two years speaks of a furious work ethic and fiercely committed participants and while that pace has not marred the quality of their music, it seems clear it’s damaged the band’s long-term viability. It’s little secret that this is virtually guaranteed to be the final BCC album, the friction and disagreements between the two principles, Glenn Hughes and Joe Bonamassa, apparently now at such a height that impasse has been reached. Hughes desperate to tour and Bonamassa not prepared to jeopardise his increasingly successful solo gig to do so, and so this, to all intents and purposes, is the swan song.
‘Afterglow’ has a huge shadow out of which to climb if it is to equal, never mind surpass, its predecessors and the majority of the pressure has fallen on Hughes’ shoulders. There’s an argument for viewing this almost as a Glenn Hughes solo album, certainly in terms of the writing, the bulk of which is credited to Hughes. That it avoids this fate is entirely due to the huge musical personality of Bonamassa, who stamps his enormous chops all over the impressive Hughes-written grooves with an incendiary fire that reeks of blaze-of-glory farewells.
‘Afterglow’ is actually two albums. The bombast and ostentatious classic rock-style workouts of ‘Big Train’ ‘Common Man’ and ‘The Giver,’ while enjoyable, are the sort of fare this band could knock out in their sleep. The real meat, then, is to be found in cuts like ‘Confessor’ and the simply peerless ‘Cry Freedom,’ the latter track anchoring the album with both Hughes and Bonamassa sharing the vocals.
It’s easily one of the best releases of the year but is it the best of the band’s three releases thus far? That’s a tough call and, really, one that will only be definitely answered once the necessary perspective, tempered by time and distance, is attained. For now, though, you can be assured ‘Afterglow’ is a triumphant requiem and a fitting headstone for this most remarkable of acts.
9 out of 10
- Big Train
- This Is Your Time
- Midnight Sun
- Cry Freedom
- The Circle
- Common Man
- The Giver