Guitar icon and Black Label Society frontman Zakk Wylde releases a brand new studio album entitled “Catacombs of the Black Vatican” on April 7th via Mascot Label Group in the UK and Europe. This album is the first all-new Black Label Society studio album since “The Order of the Black” (2009), which debuted at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 chart.
Now I will admit that this is the first time I’ve experienced Black Label Society. Sure I know Mr Wylde’s work with Ozzy Osbourne (who picked the young Zakk as the man to replace Jake E Lee, who had in turn replaced the legendary Randy Rhoads in Ozzy’s band), and the image that surrounds the sometime viking warrior of the guitar – all harmonic squeals and crunch laden, bullseye guitar and plenty of beer. Except, Zakk hasn’t touched alcohol for three years. Hmm … does that mean I may have the image all wrong?
Fortunately, for me any way, yes the image I have of Black Label Society is all wrong. Clearly, the shift in my musical taste towards the more heavy (some would say metal) end of the spectrum has influenced me a good deal but the arrival of this CD got me really excited. First play and the album blew me away. Certainly there is no shortage of metal riffery but there does seem much less in the way of the Zakk Wylde patented pinch harmonic.
The biggest surprises were “Angel of Mercy” and “Scars” – two quite beautiful, acoustic type songs (well compared to the “usual” from BLS!). Quite stunning and totally from out of left field. The other great thing about this album is that you can really hear how much of an influence Zakk appears to have had on the sound of his former employer. Without revealing who it was that I was playing on the Davey W’s Stereo of Doom (previously known as Davey W’s Stereo of Pink, Fluffy, Girly Rock), Mrs W happily decide that she really liked this and asked “this is Ozzy isn’t it?”
So, perfect for fans of the Double O and those already fans of Black Label Society will love it. For the rest of us who love hard rocking, guitar driven albums of class and quality …. this is one for us. Mr Wylde’s brand of metal is certainly one for me. Awesome!
“Catacombs of the Black Vatican” is released on Monday 7th April, via Mascot Records.
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