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Black Country Communion: Afterglow

Supergroup get spontaneous in the studio.

If, as seems to be the case, this proves to be the last album from the short-lived supergroup, then at lease they've gone out on a high.

Afterglow is easily the most cohesive and exciting album from the band. It has a spontaneity and dynamic that perhaps was a little lacking previously, which is probably a consequence of the recording process being rather rushed. Afterglow was supposed to be a Glenn Hughes solo album, but a last-minute change of plan saw it become the third Black Country Communion studio release, with Joe Bonamassa, Derek Sherinian and Jason Bonham all called into the fray. As a result, every song was written by Hughes alone, and this gives a pleasing flow to the album.

It all gets going in impressive style on the anthemic, pulsing Big Train, with Bonamassa delivering some neat and sharp guitar that complements Hughes’s powerful vocals. The quality rarely slackens as This Is Your Time and Midnight Sun have the sparkle of maturity allied to a real sense of drive. The fact that the album was effectively recorded live in the studio adds to the impact of the title track, which is a soaring ballad with strong Led Zeppelin influences. And the same is also true of The Circle, which builds from a low-key beginning into a full emotional flood of elegant virtuosity.

The band were apparently learning the songs on the spot and then going straight into the studio to record them. This means you never get the feeling of musicianship overpowering the depth of the compositions. This sometimes happened on the previous two albums, but here we get to appreciate that there’s a true rapport between the protagonists and the music. On Dandelion, for example, there are some gripping drum patterns from Bonham, while Sherinian glows on The Giver and Crawl, showing his ability to play keyboards in a way that enhances the songs.

Ultimately, what makes Afterglow such a triumph is the fusion of the Hughes voice and Bonamassa guitar. It’s always been said that Black Country Communion were created around their specific talents. Here you can understand how potent that combination can be. Of course, there are moments when the playing is a little sloppy, as you might expect from the way it was recorded, but that just adds to the overall flavour.

We might never get to see Black Country Communion again. However, this album fulfils all the early promise.

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica (opens in new tab), published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. He would later become a founding member of RAW rock magazine in 1988.

In the early 90s, Malcolm Dome was the Editor of Metal Forces magazine, and also involved in the horror film magazine Terror, before returning to Kerrang! for a spell. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He was actively involved in Total Rock Radio (opens in new tab), which launched as Rock Radio Network in 1997, changing its name to Total Rock in 2000. In 2014 he joined the TeamRock online team as Archive Editor, uploading stories from all of our print titles and helping lay the foundation for what became Louder.

Dome was the author of many books on a host of bands from AC/DC to Led Zeppelin and Metallica, some of which he co-wrote with Prog Editor Jerry Ewing.