Without a shadow of doubt, Zakk Wylde is a guitar hero. His time with Ozzy, his own solo outings or with his band of berserker brothers in Black Label Society, he has always been a constant figure in our world. His unique brand of heavy riffing, wild soloing and off beat Viking humour have trod our sacred earth for pretty much 3 decades now.
Cometh the hour, cometh a new album lovingly entitled `The Grimmest Hits`. Of which is set to be unleashed on the 19th of January to the needing public. Zakk has spent the past few years since the release of `Catacombs of the Black Vatican` completing stints under his more laid back acoustic solo guise and back with Ozzy, so let’s see how `Grimmest Hits’ does fitting in with Zakk’s huge repertoire.
Taking a couple of tracks out to dissect is rather interesting concept here, as there’s no really terrible songs and in the same vain because there’s nothing terrible it’s hard to lift out the better songs, they are all extremely solid pieces of work from BLS. So a good start.
However, let’s chop away and let’s start with the opening number “Trampled Down Below”. This pretty much sets the scene album and a superb introduction to the sheer riffage and soloing to come.
The guitar really does take centre stage throughout the track, the riffs are heavy and groovy yet sound simple with repeatable parts that will make all you guitar learners out there quiver with love and appreciation. Although, these riffs sound simple, it’s undeniably Zakk’s unique sound with his absolutely blistering solo along with his exclusive vocals, you know that it’s Zakk and Black Label Society and they mean business.
Never too far away on a Black Label record is the acoustic numbers, now we all love a good steak and chips but you need extra flavours, no one can live off just that, just like it would be dull to have an album with nothing but heavy tracks, you need something else to chew on.
This is where Zakk as a master guitarist and having the influences of bands like Zeppelin, Sabbath to Skynyrd and Elton John as a band do have the ability to include acoustic numbers like “The Only Words”. Black Label really showcase their qualities, with the band able to take not just create heavy tracks but to take it slow and tracks like this give the album a breather. The track offers up tasteful solos and leads that are creamy and relaxing, it’s tracks like this that just show why Zakk is so revered within the guitar community.
From the opening note, through to the final ring of the instruments, the new Black Label album does NOT disappoint. It’s hard and heavy throughout, yet sprinkled with songs of acoustic wonderments that add that little bit of spice to the proceedings.
`The Grimmest Hits’ is exactly what you’d expect and certainly want from Zakk and company to deliver. It has all the epic riffs that hold their own along with absolutely blistering solos that accompany each song. The acoustic tracks on the album offer something different for new time and hardcore BLS fans alike, they break up the album perfectly. After all you will get bored of just having Steak and Chips, no matter how nice it tastes.
Ok, so off the point there, yet `Grimmest Hits’ is a complete solid album, it’s an album of what Black Label Society does and they do it real well.
9/10- An absolute solid album, full of Black Label power and full blown powerhouse riffs and solos.
Stand out tracks:
`Trampled Down Below’, `The Only Words` and `Room Of Nightmares’
1. Trampled Down Below
2. Seasons Of Falter
3. The Betrayal
4. All That Once Shined
5. The Only Words
6. Room Of Nightmares
7. A Love Unreal
9. The Day That Heaven Had Gone Away
10. Illusions Of Peace
11. Bury Your Sorrow
12. Nothing Left To Say
Black Label Society online: