September 27, 2006

CD Review: Black Label Society - Shot to Hell

Black Label Society is a band that I have never really listened to much of. Every once in awhile I would wonder why I don't, I mean Zakk Wylde is an amazing guitar player with an original sound that just gets the adrenaline going when you listen to him. I would then pop in the orignal Black Label album, and I just do not really like it. That's the reason, I just moved onto other bands following what I considered to be a lackluster debut. I guess I should also mention that I have never listened to Pride & Glory, and I really liked Book of Shadows, not to mention his work with Ozzy.

Recently, I was encouraged to return to the fold when I viewed, reviewed, and loved the recent Black Label DVD, Doom Troopin'. That live show was an eye opener to the true metal juggernaut that Wylde started. The music was just an absolute joy to listen to. Now I had to check them out in studio form. As luck would have it, the band has just released a new album, Shot to Hell.

This album is not exactly what I expected, honestly I did not expect to hear so many ballads and slower tracks, they actually take up a good portion of the disk. Not that this is a bad thing, I just expected it to be more balls to the wall straight through with maybe one slow jam.

The highlight of Shot to Hell is, obviously, Zakk's guitar playing. He has such an amazing sound, I have never heard anyone that plays quite like him. Combine that with his distinctive, yet Ozzy inspired voice, and the rest of his band you have one of the true flag bearers of metal music. Black Label Society is a true metal band, tried and true. With my recent coming into the fold, I am getting a good idea of what to expect from them, and I like it.

We get off to a great start with "Concrete Jungle," a song that opens with a little voice box before getting into gear. It is a great mood setter as you move into the rest of the album. The energy is kept up with one of my favorite cuts, "Black Mass Reverends."

Shot to Hell strikes me as a surprisingly emotional album. From the abundance of ballads, to the hurt in Zakk's voice on tracks like "The Last Goodbye," to the reckless abandon of the heavier tracks such as "Devil's Dime." This is a well rounded album that displays the many facets of Zakk Wylde's song writing ability, and the therapuetic effects that music can have. He is pouring himself into this music, it may be the continued effect that the death of Dimebag Darrell had on him. It is the continuation of his outcry that began with "In This River."

This is a very good album that I just get absorbed in whenever I put it on. The mixture of riffs and melodies really spotlight the talent that they possess. I am truly impressed with the music, it has power no matter if it is a heavy track or a soulful ballad, they are infused with strength that I haven't heard in many other albums lately.

Bottomline. I vow to start listening to Black Label Society's back catalog, and go back to original album again. This album shows that they are among the front runners of metal. Shot to Hell is a well rounded and complete album that showcases strong songwriting and superior musical ability. Black Label Society is a band that every rock and metal fan should be listening to.

Highly Recommended.
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