Grimmest Hits, a title that makes me believe I’m about to review a Black Label Society’s greatest hits album. Instead, I’m treated to twelve bluesy, riff laden, damn good, rock ‘n roll songs.
Four years removed from their last offering, Catacombs of the Black Vatican, Grimmest Hits is the tenth studio album from Zakk Wylde’s BLS. Stalwarts Zakk Wylde and John DeServio have been joined by new guitarist Dario Lorina (Lizzy Borden) and drummer Jeff Fabb (In This Moment). The new offering is everything you would expect from this veteran band: iconic blues, metal and rock ‘n roll riffage,a rhythm section that just oozes “southern rock Cool” in the way they drive the songs, soaring solos are a must and plenty abound, and Zakk Wylde’s vocals, while not being counted amongst the upper echelon of metal singers, fits like a leather glove.
The album lets loose with opening track Trampled Down Below. A mellow start with a nice bass lick that is overpowered by a big crashing opening riff before the unmistakeable vocals of Zakk Wylde enters the fray. From the start you know this is BLS. The BLS sound continues throughout, complete with every riff and wailing solo. Not letting the foot off the throat, it is immediately followed by the even better, Black Sabbath sounding, Seasons of Falter. While styled like Sabbath it is also everything that is synonymous with BLS. Heavy riffs and a mighty, yet grungy solo that keeps on and on.
The Betrayal provides no letup to the goodness with its heavy, blues infused intro before adding to the amazing riffage fest. This is good stuff, I am rocking and nodding all the way so far. The next couple of songs are a little mellower in tempo. All That Once Shined is another Sabbath-esque track that brings back memories of 70’s rock, fuzzy distortion and solos along with big sing along choruses. The Only Words is a fine ballad with is Southern Rock and Country stylings. Wylde’s vocals on this track are just dripping with emotion.
The very short Room of Nightmares ups the tempo again and is a good little rocker that is right out of the BLS top drawer but is over too soon. A Love Unreal kicks off acoustically before smashing you with a big meaty riff, the song could be the love child of a Sabbath and Alice in Chains collaboration. Disbelief continues the theme with even more homage. Wylde’s vocals are even managing to sound like Ozzy (Osbourne) at times.
Another ballad follows in The Day That Heaven Had Gone Away before rounding out the album nicely with triumvirate of Illusion of Piece, Bury Your Sorrow and Nothing Left To Say. The album is strong on all counts, laden with hooks, amazing solos, and head nodding rock. For me it shows that Black Label Society know how to deliver fine new music without straying too far from what they know works. There is more than enough here to keep me coming back.
Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society release Grimmest Hits today (January 19, 2018) via Spinefarm Records / Caroline Australia
BLACK LABEL SOCIETY is:
Zakk Wylde – Vocals/Guitar
John DeServio – Bass
Dario Lorina – Guitar
Jeff Fabb – Drums