Black Stone Cherry — Screamin’ At The Sky (Mascot Records)

Could this be lucky number seven for the best hard rock band to come out of the US in the last 20 years?

2020’s The Human Condition was Black Stone Cherry’s sixth consecutive number one debut on the UK Rock Albums chart. 

And it would be foolish to bet against Screamin’ At The Sky following suit.

A typically robust affair was recorded at the legendary Plaza Theater in Glasgow, Kentucky.

Sonically it’s BSC’s best-sounding album yet: a meaty mix captures the band’s live energy without compromising on quality.

In fact, Screamin’ At The Sky bridges the gap between 2008’s near faultless Folklore And Superstition and the consummate, emotive Kentucky.

It’s fair to say neither Family Tree (2018) nor The Human Condition were a true reflection of Chris Robertson and co. at their pugnacious, purposeful best.

Both were solid rock records built on this close-knit brotherhood’s years of experience.

But BSC are better than solid.

And Screamin’ At The Sky is the quartet’s truest return to form.

Compelling authenticity is writ large across 12 instantly relatable tunes but that’s a given where these good old Southern boys are concerned.

What sets this career high apart is a visceral attention to detail and those Plaza Theater vibes.

Expect the unexpected on this riotous rock and roll ride.

Out Of Pocket and richly rewarding

Black Stone Cherry have never eased fans into a new record.

And a scorching opening 13 minutes light up Screamin’ At The Sky.

But the first four songs — including the strident title track and punchy single Out Of Pocket — are simply the set-up.

Show Me What It Feels Like and Raindrops On A Rose are where things get really interesting.

Robertson lets his guard drop and lets the emotion run wild.

By chance or by design — and who really knows which — the mid-section of BSC’s eight long player is simply sublime.

Show Me What It Feels Like and Raindrops On A Rose are two of the best songs this brave band has ever conceived.

And the back-to-back standouts on a seriously consistent album crank up the expectation leading into the relentless final straight.

Sure things take a rather downbeat turn — in terms of sentiment rather than sonically — on The Mess You Made and Here’s To The Hopeless.

But Robertson’s never been one to sugar coat life.

And even when his buddy’s in full-on, self-reflective mode, the bristling Ben Wells brings a trademark joie de vivre to the table with his frothy fretwork.

Screamin’ At The Sky is oxygen for the rock and roll soul. It’s BSC’s best yet.