Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Review: Black Label Society, "The Blessed Hellride"

In a world where heavy rock bands are constantly trying to put a new spin on metal through the use of rap or techno elements, Zakk Wylde is a refreshing change of pace.

"The Blessed Hellride" is 11 tracks of Black Sabbath-fueled, straight ahead, no-nonsense heavy metal. Heavy riffs are punctuated by Wylde's trademark harmonic squeals on the rockers and his powerful voice takes over on the slower numbers.

Wylde's long-time metal mentor and partner in crime Ozzy Osbourne makes an appearance on "Stillborn," and Zakk himself has honed his Ozzy impersonation as evident on "We Live No More," which sounds as though it were originally written with the godfather of metal in mind.

And it's probably a good thing Zakk's tight with the Ozzman, otherwise he might have to pay some royalties on "Suffering Overdue," which is ripped straight from the Sabbath songbook. Put a young Ozzy on vocals, and it could have easily come off "Master of Reality" or "Sabotage."

Surprisingly, the real shining moments of the album are not the lightning fast rockers or the homages to Black Sabbath. Instead, they're the slower songs. The Southen rock twang of the title track and the dark and moody "Blackened Waters" really put the focus on one of Wylde's strongest attributes (after his guitar work, of course.) His gruff, soulful voice packs an incredible amount of emotion into the slower songs, making them, in many cases, outshine their heavier counterparts.

At the end of the day, though, BLS is all about metal, and they deliver it better than just about anyone out there right now. If you're longing for some no-nonsense metal grind, hop aboard "The Blessed Hellride."

Get "The Blessed Hellride."

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