Bohannons are brothers Marty and Matt. Black Cross, Black Shield is an intense hard rock album with a lot of heart and style. It was released off This Is American Music on March 31st 2015. There is a running theme throughout this album that deals with a darkness within the human psyche although this is not a death and gloom album. Marty remarks “There is a theme to this album and it’s not death, it’s the beauty of death and memorialising the departed with electricity and force”. There is a hopefulness within with album and although the subject matter is dark and intense, Black Cross Black Shield finds that light at the end of the tunnel with breathtaking blues riffs, heroic vocal delivery and sludgy guitars reminiscent of the best seventies metal. Bohannons are defined as a modern southern rock band and although they are that, they are many other things. This album has a classic quality to it, without being a reenactment. It’s sincere and soulful and a pleasure to listen to. Bohannons have given their listeners an album to really sink their teeth into.
There are many names that I was reminded of in listening to this album. I guess you could say if Black Sabbath and Neil Young had a baby, you’d get a sound like Bohannons. There is undeniable depth in their lyrics and dark down and dirty nature to their riffs which would hark back to the witchy sludge of Black Sabbath. This is especially apparent in the track Red, White, Black and Pale, an hypnotic metal track complete with snarling lyrics and accompanying southern harmonica found within the storm of metal sludge.
Opening track Black Cross, Black Shield immediately made me think I was dealing with a big sound. The track has an epic quality to it. It even reminded me of something I’d hear by a band like Mother Love Bone. Musically and lyrically, the track is soulful and clever. The track has a distinctive southern sound which runs through the whole album. The guitar work on Cold Rag is breathtaking. Darkest Night is track that almost has an R.E.M like to it, the guitars jangle along and the songs theme is about losing a loved one to suicide. It’s a beautiful track.
Bohannons are not afraid to tackle difficult subject matter and that is another reason I found this album a particularly compelling listen. Death and Texes is another track with some beautiful guitar work. The theme hear is about terminal illness. The song conveys a compelling emotional intensity and clocks in at six minutes. Lyrics deal with God, the afterlife and wondering why someone had to go. Dias De Los Muertas is a song that seems to have garnered a lot of attention on the album. The tracks theme is a tribute to the struggles and injustices faced by Mexican immigrants in the United States. Considering the albums overall theme, I found the title of this track particularly poignant. Dias De Los Muertas is a tribute to indigenous peoples and a beautiful soulful track.
Black Cross, Black Shield is an album for listeners who are seeking something that rocks hard but rocks hard with a lot of heart and depth and well worth listening to for those who are disillusioned by a lot of contemporary rock.
Black Cross. Black Shield is out now.