Zakk Wylde is a man who lives up to his name, with a recently released solo record, Ozzy Osbourne shows, Zakk Sabbath tours and now a new Black Label Society album, Grimmest Hits, set for a January 19 release all proving that Wylde doesn’t know how to stop – not that we’re complaining.
Album opener, ‘Trampled Down Below’ begins with the solid, heavy-hitting guitar that Black Label Society are known for, but not without a little classical influence. For old-school fans, this is a cruisy song, with a simple but catchy riff feeding its way through the entirety of the song, but of course it wouldn’t be Wylde without an impressive guitar solo slung in there to really grab your attention.
‘Seasons of Falter’ is a track to immediately grab your attention, with Wylde’s recent work with Ozzy Osbourne being a clear influence from the first note. From super catchy riffs to a bluesier track with a genuine 80s feel, this is one to appeal to a wide range of fans.
Third track, ‘The Betrayal’ has a much grungier feel to it to begin with, before making way for a more than impressive minute long mid-song guitar solo. While Wylde’s guitar slinging steals the limelight for a minute, ‘The Betrayal’ is the perfect song to showcase the solid rhythm section, made up of bassist John DeServio, drummer Jeff Fabb and guitarist Dario Lorina, of whom Black Label Society would be nothing without.
‘All that Once Shined,’ the second single to be released off Grimmest Hits breaks the typical Black Label Society mould with a vocal only intro, before opening into another relatively bluesy song. ‘All that Once Shined’ is another song to sit back and chill out to, but does make way for some groovy guitar work in the latter half of the track.
A plugged-in ballad is up next in ‘The Only Words,’ a love song but not one that’ll bore you to sleep. To use Wylde’s joke album descriptor of “the perfect soundtrack for an evening of gaping and smooching,” this may well be the song he’s referring to. Proof once again that these berserkers can pull off soft and beautiful as well as their signature grungy and heavy sound.
Lead single, ‘Room of Nightmares’ brings us back to somewhat of a halfway point between the first few songs and its predecessor. ‘Room of Nightmares’ is a catchy track that really shows off DeServio’s strong bass skills, and again, allowing the guitar maestro to shine. Perhaps a good track to use to ease your non-BLS-converted friends over to the dark side.
You’d be sorely mistaken for thinking ‘A Love Unreal’ was going to take you down the road of another ballad. This one is a very “classic Black Label” track – sure to please fans new and old.
‘A Love Unreal’ flows smoothly into follow-on track, ‘Disbelief.’ Another track with a super catchy rhythm, and although it returns to that famous bluesy sound that shines strong on this album, it also holds tight onto that trademark Black Label Society sound, a formula which hasn’t failed these boys yet, so why mess with it?
‘The Day that Heaven had Gone Away’ may well have messed with that formula, but no need to panic – it works. ‘The Day that Heaven had Gone Away’ is still typical Black Label Society, it’s still got their trademark bluesy sound – perhaps more so than in a lot of their other songs, but it’s got some sort of twist to it that I just can’t quite put my finger on. It’s like an easy-listening Black Label Society song – now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write! Whilst many of Black Label Society’s songs have a very 80s feel to them, this one takes it a step further back to the 70s. I can foresee this song creating a special intimate moment during live shows.
Taking a running leap back into the heavier and more upbeat sound, ‘Illusions of Peace’ and ‘Bury Your Sorrow’ both return to that trademark sound – more so than any other songs on Grimmest Hits. Both of these tracks wouldn’t sit out of place on the Black Label Society sound of fifteen years ago. Some news that’s sure to please many longstanding fans of the band.
Grimmest Hits is wrapped up with a tack aptly titled ‘Nothing Left to Say’ which takes us back to Wylde’s ever-loved ballad style with a bit more of an upbeat or hopeful feel to it. ‘Nothing Left to Say’ may well be Black Label Society’s most mainstream sounding song – but still one that is sure to appeal to a wide range of listeners, from the average Joe to your die-hard Metalhead alike. ‘Nothing Left to Say’ makes the album feel complete and leaves you walking away feeling content.
Grimmest Hits proves that Black Label Society know that they’re doing and aren’t going to fix something that isn’t broken, while still ensuring this new release brings something new to the table. You couldn’t ask for anything more from a solid album from start to finish.
BLACK LABEL SOCIETY’S GRIMMEST HITS IS RELEASED JANUARY 19; PREORDER YOUR COPY FROM ENTERTAINMENT ONE HERE!