Thursday, July 7, 2022

Black Label Society’s Grimmest Hits – A festival of riffing!

Grimmest Hits, the latest album from Zakk Wylde’s outfit Black Label Society is, surprise, surprise, a festival of riffing. What it’s not as the title may suggest – is a compilation; it is a brand new studio album.

Known for his work with Ozzy Osbourne, Jeffrey Phillip Wielandt (Zakk to most of us) has kept the guitar flag flying and pushing out albums as a solo artist as well as with Black Label Society.

On this new release, the first point worthy of note is that Zakk’s vocal abilities, seen by some as a weakness, continue to improve in enunciation and melody. In fact on a number of tracks, he sounds alarmingly like his erstwhile colleague Ozzy!

As a whole, the album is quality heavy rock/metal without deviating from the standard Black Label Society template. Zakk and the band are more than equal to the task – John DeServio – Bass, Dario Lorina – Guitar, Jeff Fabb – Drums. They all give a driving solidity to every track allowing Zakk to give full reign to his guitar hero persona.

Sabbath tones inevitably rear their head – indeed, ‘All That Once Shined’ and ‘Disbelief’ sound as if they should be on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

The obligatory ballad turns up on the track ‘The Only Words’; it also has the best and most thoughtful solo… no histrionics, no speed for speeds sake, just beautifully played melodically.

‘A Love Unreal’ opens with a gentle acoustic passage before taking your ears off with a great heavy as hell riff.

So, no real surprises but then as Zakk says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Well, it ain’t broke and he hasn’t fixed it.

Tom Dixon
North East born, South West domiciled music lover - mainly heavy rock & blues but not averse to other genres. I'm fortunate to have retired early & I can now take full advantage of the 40+ years I have spent collecting, listening, watching & playing (badly) & have enjoyed researching how blues in particular has shaped the music we know & love today. Now if only I could get my Strat & Musicman to sound in reality how they do in my head!

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