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BCCIV

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Supergroups usually have difficulty balancing the egos of all the members and such was the case with Black Country Communion, the quartet featuring Deep Purple's Glenn Hughes, blues hotshot Joe Bonamassa, drummer Jason Bonham, and keyboardist Derek Sherinian. The band fell apart in 2012 after the release of Afterglow, a year that also saw Bonamassa's solo star start to rise. It seemed like the band was history, but Bonamassa reached back out to Hughes in 2016, and the quartet cut the album that became 2017's BCCIV. The years apart did not change the group's approach to classic rock -- it's a heady, melodramatic fusion of Deep Purple's artier inclinations and Led Zeppelin's light and shade, underpinned by guitar pyrotechnics -- but they did help focus the band, producing a sharper full-length album than Afterglow. Black Country Communion still wear their influences proudly -- "Love Remains" crunches like a Physical Graffiti outtake -- but they'll also nod toward modern music; the pummeling riff of "Sway" feels like a salute to the departed Chris Cornell. As always, the pleasure of Black Country Communion is hearing seasoned players play; they have palpable chemistry and this is a format for them to flaunt their chops. That BCCIV has a greater range and sturdier songs than its immediate predecessor is merely a bonus, because they're instrumentally in fine fettle here. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine