Many have debated if rock is dead. An age old battle between the forces of the unplugged and techno against the unflinching masses of the rock and metal faithful. The power of the distorted guitar is alive and well, and it was the leader of Black Label Society himself that reminded us that there are guitar gods still amongst us. Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society reignited the power of heavy metal, when so many proclaimed it dead, as they released the song "Suicide Messiah" to huge response and massive airplay on radio. That song hit my car stereo on my way to the night shift one night and I about blew the speakers out and nearly got pulled over for swerving. I was in shock and awe that finally, someone nailed all that is metal into one song and I wasn’t alone as millions of fans swept in and fell in line. Metal had returned at last.
Of course, BLS has always been there, getting better along the way; Order of the Black kicked in the doors of Billboards Top 5 and saw the band take over the world one fan at a time on the "Bezerkus Tour" alongside giants on Megadeth’s "Gigantour." I saw them destroy nearby Rochester, NY along with Judas Priest on the "Epitaph" tour, arriving just as Zakk, native headdress flowing, pound the crowd with one of the best live guitar solos I have ever seen and I have seen most of the gods over the years. So where have they been?
Besides bringing world peace, curing cancer, splitting the atom for the third time and cleaning up after the dog before brunch, we made a new record,” he says. “We were able to squeeze that in before Valhalla Java” – a reference, of course, to the band’s signature pairing with Deathwish coffee, Valhalla Java Odinforce Blend – “before I put in my half and half; fat free, so it doesn’t go to my thighs.”
Black Label Society is back of course, and releasing their latest album next week on Apr. 8, titled Catacombs Of The Black Vatican. The album is nothing short of pure genius yet again. Wylde, New Jersey born and raised Irish Catholic takes on a lot of faith issues and questions in this one, and does it the BLS way. Remember, these guys made "brotherhood" and being a man cool again long before you started watching "Sons of Anarchy." With some personnel changes, the band has not missed a beat, a solo, or the ability to nail that "Metal/Blues" vibe unlike anyone else on the planet.
Black Label Society currently features:
- Zakk Wylde - lead vocals, lead guitar, piano
- John DeServio – bass
- Chad Szeliga – drums
- Dario Lorina – rhythm guitar
Catacombs Of The Black Vatican track list:
- 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
The album is everything we fans have come to love about Black Label Society. Heavy, deep distortion with Wylde’s signature voicing and signature riffs, as well as his insane work on the fret board during his solos. There are melodic, blues work infused with some piano, that those not used to the band may be surprised to hear amongst the earth shaking thunder. Yet, BLS pulls this off better than anyone does as we have heard in the past with his tribute to his best friend Dimebag on the song "In This River." The song I am referencing on the new album is titled "Scars," beautiful acoustic pickings blended in with some wonderful work on piano and features some slide work on guitar. The song is about the wounds we all suffer as life goes on; love lost, a friend stabs you in the back, or the pain we feel as we say goodbye forever.
Zakk also takes on those questions of faith that we all have, especially those raised around the church, with several songs such as in the song “Believe,” where he asks,
Take these eyes so I can see
Are you just a story in a book
For us to read?
I wanna believe”
This album shows the world the Black Label Society is alive, well, and ready to shake the foundations once again. Catacombs Of The Black Vatican is the answer to your musical prayers.