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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Black Label Society

Grimmest Hits

Review by Kat and Mike Heitzman

Zakk Wylde and company are back to blow the doors off the barn again - this time in a booming and crooning grim fashion. The entire album has a certain gloomy feel and has both slow and fast paced songs. Out of all the records BLS has made this one feels the most Sabbathesque. There are a couple songs where you can really hear the Sabbath groove. There are even some songs that could have been written for Ozzy’s solo band. Overall, there are a lot of new riffs and originality throughout. The entire band are excellent musicians, and that is why this album just exudes superior skill and craftsmanship. Wylde’s voice just keeps getting better and better it seems. That voice and that certain slide/bend move he does on his axe are BLS’s trademarks and are still present on this tenth studio album release.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Trampled Down Below
This is where the grim-osphere begins and gently eases you into the doom groove of the entire album. Did we say “gently?" Well maybe that's true for the first 45 seconds, then bam, in your face heavy doom metal. This will surely be a big arena hit with very heavy guitar riffs and even heavier bass guitar beats. Also, this contains an amazing guitar solo, but it is very hard to find any BLS song without one.
Seasons of Falter
Bluesy and catchy, very old school sounding and trippy, this style of Wylde’s vocals is great.
The Betrayal
"The Betrayal" starts out with a very catchy riff that just chugs along perfectly. The vocals and lyrics are great. This could easily be played over and over in any metal or biker bar. It's a great party song to be enjoyed by wild and crazy metal fans.
All That Once Shined
A slow and sad song, this does pick up tempo midstream and starts calling to mind old Black Sabbath. You can hear the emotion pouring out loud and clear in the short guitar solo towards the end.
The Only Words
This one is almost country rock sounding. Wylde’s very mellow vocals are a good addition to this release and their entire catalog. He has such a recognizable twang to his voice, especially here on this track.
Room of Nightmares
There is a really tight guitar solo right in the middle of the grim-osphere. This features haunting vocals and good lyrics like “step inside where your true self awaits." The video for this is just great. Wylde keeps it light-hearted, while still grim. BLS plays at a kid's birthday party… enough said.
A Love Unreal
One of the standouts here,  this will be a metal classic one day. The musical arrangement and vocals are amazing. The whole flow of this song is super powerful. The riffs are catchy as well as the message. This can be played over and over without getting sick of it. There is also a great video for this one that is funny, very grim, and has an excellent epic ending.
Disbelief
The very cryptic lyrics here could be perceived in different ways. This is another rolling doom tune with very powerful riffs. It's good to be played loud.
The Day That Heaven Had Gone Away
A slow song that has heart and soul. they showcase their wide background influences and pour out some great bluesy metal. Some very high level guitar work is presented here, as well.
Illusions Of Peace
Calling to mind a lot of older BLS, this is definitely an anthem song. This one also needs to be played super loud. It's easy to imagine the crowd chanting along to most of this song when played live. “Illusions of peace now and for ever more” echoing out through Alpine Valley Music Theatre would be just amazing.
Bury Your Sorrow
This starts out bluesy, and then smashes you in the face with that trademark BLS thump. The guitar solo is very creative and a good mix of blues and metal. This sounds like it is about picking yourself up out of the muck of depression.
Nothing Left To Say
Good slow acoustic guitar skills are on display here. A very sad song, this may be the grimmest BLS has ever written. This is another one that can be taken different ways. Is he talking about death? Or, is it just a creative way to end the album?

 

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