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Black Label Society: Mafia

Mafia is Black Label Society's 7th release. Joining "Dom" Zakk on his own particular version of "La Cosa Nostra" are his usual wiseguys Nick "The Nose" Calanese (guitars), James "Tight Lips" LoMenzo ( bass), and Craig "The Hammer" Nunenmacher (drums). The band is firing on all tommyguns throughout the 14 tracks which make up Mafia. The "Dom" does pull out a few new weapons on this one, such as Mini Moog, talk-box, and PolyBox, but most of his shooting comes from the same trusty firearm he's used to conquer his turf and implant himself as the kingpin. His modus operandi remains the same as with his previous vendettas: Shoot first and ask questions later.

Zakk Wylde returns for his 7th variation on a same theme. The formula is great but the execution measures off the predictability meter. There's nothing on this disc that we haven't heard before. It still comes down to writing a good riff and repeating it until the monster solo kicks in and the track fades out. Zakk seems to be making a conscientious effort to sound more and more like Ozzy with every vocal passage. The best tracks on the disc are the ballads, namely "In This River" , " Dirt On The Grave", and a mystery track #15 (which has a Skynyrd feel to it) where Mr Wylde's talents for songwriting and arranging seem to shine most. Now before you put a hit out on me, please understand that I love the heavy stuff it's just that , from a creative point of view, Zakk seems to be stealing off himself. Case in point would be "Death March" which sounds eerily like "Graveyard Disciples" from 1919*Eternal.

Fans of the previous Black Label Society releases should be satisfied by this latest release. However, for those of you (like me) who felt that Zakk had successfully reached a new song writing plateau with the excellent Hangover Music Vol VI please dispel that notion from your minds immediately. A good disc, but not a great one.

Track Listing:

  1. Fire It Up
  2. What's In You
  3. Suicide Messiah
  4. Forever Down
  5. In This River
  6. You Must Be Blind
  7. Death March
  8. Dr Octavia
  9. Say What You Will
  10. TooTough To Die
  11. Electric Hellfire
  12. Spread Your Wings
  13. Been A Long Time
  14. Dirt On The Grave

Added: August 6th 2005
Reviewer: Yves Dubé
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Language: english

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Black Label Society: Mafia
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-08-06 21:11:43
My Score:

Zakk Wylde and the boys of Black Label Society have returned with another dose of their brand of Alcohol Fueled guitar brutality. This debut release on their new label Artemis Records is entitled Mafia and the piece is pretty much what all fans have come to expect of Zakk and Company. Starting off with "Fire It Up" the band has an almost Trouble-like quality to it as it plods along as if this was a Doom outfit. I liked this one a lot as Zakk's guitarwork is ever the pleasing thing to listen to. "Suicide Messiah" really has a Black Sabbath feel and drive to it and this could be the influence of all the years working with Ozzy Osbourne. I truly feel these years also had a profound impact on the development of Zakk as a singer. There are so many instances in his vocals where he sounds like a rougher Ozzy and this is actually pretty good since it always works in the context of BLS music.

Showing his softer side is the track "In This River" which is loaded with soft piano and harmony vocals. There is still time for a ripping guitar solo in the tune but I think the inclusion of this track shows how talented Zakk actually is. He is capable of doing something that could easily fall into a Southern Rock bands repertoire as well as deliver mayhem with his axe in Ozzy and BLS. Joining Zakk for the recording of this CD is James LoMenzo (who was also a member of Pride & Glory with him several years ago as well as a member of White Lion before that). Craig Nunenmacher handles the kit is very solid on the drums. Overall this was a very clean and precise production where none of the instruments overpower each other. Zakk being the leader is not overblown on the other musicians and I liked noticing that. This is definitely a CD that existing fans can get into and the newer fans as well. Zakk did not put out a CD that went over everyones head which some bands do after several releases. This is pure heavy metal in and out and very easy to find yourself headbanging to its contents. There are so many Sabbath influxes on it that it might even appeal to those hungering for riffs along those lines as well.

The booklet is loaded with liner notes and lyrics and also includes a dedication to "Dimebag"Darrell Abbott who Metal lost in December of 2004. "Dime" and Zakk were Best Friends and it was nice to see him referenced in Memorium.

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