Black Label Society - Catacombs of the Black Vatican

Black Label Society Catacombs of the Black Vatican cover
Black Label Society
Catacombs of the Black Vatican
eOne Music
“Catacombs of the Black Vatican” is the ninth studio album by Black Label Society. It’s the first album to feature Lizzy Borden guitarist Dario Lorina after the departure of longtime guitarist Nick Catanese in December 2013. It is also the first Black Label Society album to feature former Breaking Benjamin drummer Chad Szeliga after fill-in Mike Froedge left the band. Froedge himself replaced Will Hunt, who in turn replaced longtime drummer Craig Nunenmacher, all in the span of less than two years.
I truly don’t know how to describe this release. It’s hard, it’s raw, it’s everything you’ve come to expect from a Black Label Society album, minus the “waw factor”. The heavy guitars are there, the manly, macho vibe is there etc. But, firstly there’s nothing new, and secondly there’s no originality. Personally, if I wanted to listen to Black Label Society, I would listen to any album of their previous ones. If nothing else, their previous stuff did not feature so much of an Ozzy wannabe on vocals. I mean it’s amazing how much Zakk Wylde mimics Ozzy’s vocal style. Did I say “amazing”? I meant to say “annoying”, it’s annoying how much Zakk Wylde mimics Ozzy’s vocal style.
There are of course some good moments in “The Catacombs of the Black Vatican”, after all when you’re dealing with musicians of that magnitude it’s almost impossible for the whole album to suck. However, that’s a double edge sword, cause the bar is set higher for musicians of that magnitude. So, with that in mind, this record does not include enough good moments for a band like Black Label Society.
In addition, on an album like this I expected a lot more guitar solos. The truth is that there’s just the minimum number of guitar solos. Most of them are either unimpressive or just a bit generic and uninspired. As for the ones that are good, they do sound a touch too flashy and a little outdated. Basically, I don’t think this band is superb any more. I know that some might consider it blasphemy to be calling Zakk Wylde outdated and irrelevant. What can I say? Even though it is without a doubt a tight rocking album, I didn’t hear anything I haven’t heard before in “The Catacombs of the Black Vatican” in order to classify it as a noteworthy record.