Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Black Label Society – Shot to Hell

Black Label Society – Shot to Hell

I’ve been fan of Zakk Wylde since the first time I heard him play the opening notes of Miracle Man on Ozzy Ozborne’s No Rest For The Wicked album back in 1989. He quickly established himself as an outstanding guitarist in one of, if not the most visible slots in Rock & Roll by stepping into the shoes of Tony Iommi, Randy Rhodes and Jake E. Lee. In addition to playing with Ozzy, Wylde has recorded with everyone from Black Sabbath to Damageplan, Derek Sherinian to Dweezil Zappa, released albums as Zakk Wylde, Pride & Glory and has been the driving force behind Black Label Society and their nine albums. Did I mention that while out touring with Ozzfest, he also manages to play with both Black Label Society and Ozzy in the same night? Could Zakk Wylde be the busiest man in show business? Quite possibly.

Black Label Society has returned with the release of their album, Shot to Hell, to sonically dominate and aurally dismember all comers. Black Label Society is one of the heaviest bands in American music today, and it shows here. They’re not necessarily the fastest or the angriest and Zakk Wylde actually sings instead of screaming and yet there is something about Black Label Society that manages to cut right to the heart of what “heavy” is. I don’t know if it’s the screaming guitars with the signature Wylde squeals, the tight, tight rhythm section or the overall attitude of the band, but a safe bet would be some combination of all three.

With all that being said, there are aspects of Shot to Hell that point back to Zakk Wylde’s mostly acoustic solo album, Book of Shadows. There are moments where Shot to Hell turns the Marshall’s down from 11 and stops cracking skulls long enough to just kind of poke you with a sharp stick. Black Label Society has the amazing ability to stay heavy no matter what’s on the table; rocker or ballad, fast or slow. Mind you, ballad is not the most appropriate word to use when discussing Shot to Hell.

I think the bottom line is, if you’re looking for something dark and heavy (did I mention heavy?)…Black Label Society. If you truly appreciate the finer points of what Rock & Roll or Hard Rock or Heavy Metal is really all about, again…Black Label Society. If you want a band that not only talks the proverbial talk, but also walks the proverbial walk…you guessed it…Black Label Society. Pick up a copy of Shot to Hell, you won’t be disappointed.

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