Black Label Society frontman Zakk Wylde has a well deserved reputation for being extreme in everything! During his time as Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist, Wylde became a guitar hero with a difference. With his trademark bullseye Gibson, he could play as fast as anyone, but could also create some incredibly heavy, dark riffs. As the guiding force behind Black Label Society you always know what you are gonna get... music to pillage a village too. But on their latest, GRIMMEST HITS, the music is less aggressive and more melodic with a whole lotta doom put in.
From the first track, Trampled Down Below to the last acoustic notes of Nothing Left To Say, this album will shock everyone who listens to it. depending how you go into it, this could be a great shock (like it is for me) or a bad shock, because you were expecting something different. I have already read and heard the shock as people expected SHOOT TO HELL or SONIC BREW, but if you give this one a listen with an open mind, you will love this album.
The first thing you should hear is the bands obvious Black Sabbath influences. Zakk sounds just like Ozzy especially in the multi layered vocals of Seasons Of Falter. Musically, A Love Unreal has the Sabbath trademark tempo change and heavy riffing by Wylde and new guitarist Dario Lorina. The drums by Jeff Fabb contain the spirits of Bill Ward and John Bonham and add another level to the music. Bassist John DeServio is rock solid, keeping it all together and giving the music a path to follow.
Not just heavy, GRIMMEST HITS has some slower songs like The Day That Heaven Had Gone Away that wears its Lynyrd Skynyrd influence proudly. Others like the fantastic Nothing Left To Say and The Only Word are just beautiful and some of the best work ever recorded by BLS.
You could say this album is mature or a drastic change of direction, but I say it is an album by a band looking to have fun and make music, nothing else. I know longtime fans are going to struggle with this one and maybe only be able to relate to a few songs on the album, but look at it as VOL. 4 or SABOTAGE from Black Sabbath. Both those albums were a heavy band trying to expand their sound and grow as musicians. Give BLS a chance to do the same!!
MATMAN RATING - 4.5 out of 5 sweet tones!
The Power Chords Podcast is a twice-monthly podcast celebrating rock and metal music of the '70s, '80s, '90s and beyond. The show is co-hosted by Matt Herring and Brian LeTendre.