Black Label Society
Three years off of Catacombs of the Black Vatican, Zakk Wylde and crew are back with an album that further solidifies the song standards Black Label Society has made for themselves. Ten albums in and Black Label Society nails 12 songs that are as formulaic as anything else they have done. Wylde has nestled into a vibrance of guitar rock that may not hit you like a brick, but the sum of the parts is the great statement to Grimmest Hits.
We listen to a band like AC/DC, Nirvana, or Alice In Chains and have an expectation. The core of Powerage does not deviate from Highway To Hell, and that album is not far from Black In Black despite vocalists. And we can see how Black Label Society moves from album to album with that core of building strong songs, never show-off pieces.
One of the greatest living guitarists, Wylde has every right to show off. Yet, when “Trampled Down Below” brings us back into this hard rock ride, we experience the unity of a group who keep the machine well oiled. Wylde’s solo sneaks up on you. Before you know it, you are standing in a vortex of metal fury.
“Seasons of Falter” builds up to “Room of Nightmares.” The way bassist John DeServio, guitarist Dario Lorina, and drummer Jeff Fabb spin around this ‘90s-style hard rock gem speaks volumes. How they define classic rock in modern society dates itself, but they do it so well you almost forget the timing of it all. It’s like discovering Cliff Burton wore a Lynyrd Skynyrd patch and suddenly Southern Rock is deemed safe for metalheads.
Black Label Society – Room of Nightmares
Thanks to the video for “Room of Nightmares,” association to John 5 and the Creatures or Rob Zombie are obvious. The song defines the frenzy that is Wylde’s life as a rock and roll star through Ozzy and as a solo artist. Although single driven, the songwriting is intelligent with a degree of depth iconic for Black Label Society. With the video you add tongue-and-cheek values not as gratuitous with just the song.
I am all about flashiness, but I think Black Label Society’s best work is in their balladry. “A Love Unreal” professes sincerity that stands out. It expresses Wylde’s talent to be able to take this hard, bearded biker image and show something real. We don’t look at Wylde as a rock and roll superhero but someone who is sincere. In this life, Grimmest Hits not just fuels a fire but exposes the fallacies of the human condition. Wylde bonds us together in that construct. I would not expect anything different.