As the "bubble gum pop" era begins to decline, it sets the stage for a hard rock/heavy metal comeback, something the music world desperately needs. The Zakk Wylde fronted Black Label Society has set the tone, as well as raised the bar, for what it will take to be at the forefront of a comeback with their release of Catacombs of the Black Vatican.
While the music could be considered "vintage" Black Label Society, its much more than that, and goes much deeper. The tracks on the album flow seamlessly from one to the next, having an uncanny connection. Though Wylde would say "it sounds like the last previous nine records but with different songs," I would have to disagree.
In order for an album to be successful, even on a small scale, the music has to connect with people, make them think, feel and emote. With previous BLS albums there has always been at least one song that most everyone can relate to, but with Catacombs of the Black Vatican, most of the tracks hold a deep identity for many.
Wylde is known for his terrific and often insane guitar riffs, and this album is no different, as the guitar riffs often seem to be more important than the lyrics.
My philosophy is writing riffs on the E-string and the A-string. When I used to listen to 'Smoke on the Water' or 'Iron Man,' those riffs can be played on basically one string. Being a kid, those were the first songs I learned. They’re just riffs. They’re on two strings, the actual riff. That’s just riff writing," Wylde said in an interview with Gibson.
Black Label Society and Zakk Wylde are leading the resurgence of hard rock with the release of Catacombs of the Black Vatican.
The new album features:
- Zakk Wylde - lead vocals, lead guitar, piano
- John DeServio – bass
- Chad Szeliga – drums
- Dario Lorina – rhythm guitar
- Fields of Forgiveness
- My Dying Time
- Angel of Mercy
- Heart of Darkness
- Beyond the Down
- Damn the Flood
- I’ve Gone Away
- Empty Promises
- Shades of Gray
- Dark Side of the Sun (Bonus Track)
- The Noman (Bonus Track)
I will not say that Black Label Society is "back," but would rather say they are better than ever with this release, which defines perfection and raises the bar high for other bands who will follow.