Black Label Society. Three words that should bring to mind only one thing in the minds of music lovers-brutal heavy metal. Zakk Wylde and Co.'s latest studio album is another classic example of cutting edge metal, filled with raunchy guitar riffs, killer grooves, and tough-as-nails vocals. Wylde doesn't impress in all the guitar magazine polls for nothin'-this guy is all the rage, and perhaps the best pure metal guitarist on the scene today, if not for the past decade.
Don't take my word for it, just check out the mammoth riffs of "Doomsday Jesus", a neat Sabbath style sludge 'n' roll with lyrics dealing with the perils of war and hatred among mankind. Ozzy even makes an appearance on "Stillborn", a raging rocker where the mentor and the apprentice share a vocal duet. "Suffering Overdue" contains a wicked wah-wah guitar solo, plus all sorts of evil harmonics from Zakk's Gibson Les Paul. More brontosaurus stomp can be heard on "Funeral Bell" as well as on the complex riffery of "Destruction Overdrive" two perfect examples of early 70's meets modern day heavy metal. The guitarist's gravely voice is aging well, as he sounds like a younger Ozzy with a bit more bite, as evident on the behemoth dirge of "Final Solution."
You also can hear Wylde's mellower side on a few tracks as well, like the title track, "Blackened Waters", and "Dead Meadow." On these the guitarist mixes rootsy, Allman Brothers inspired acoustic rock with dark lyrical themes. It works best on the gritty "Blackened Waters", a haunting track that starts off with Wylde's beer soaked vocals of loss and despair, before the acoustic guitars lead to huge crushing power chords of doom. His guitar solo on this one is a thing of beauty, part Robin Trower, part Frank Marino, but ultimately trademark Zakk Wylde.
In a perfect world this CD should sell better than all the Linkin Parks, Godsmacks, and countless other metal bands that park themselves on the Billboard Top 100. Regardless of whether it makes it or not, The Blessed Hellride is true metal, and that's OK by me. Highly recommended.