Black Label Society - Grimmest Hits

Black Label Society Grimmest Hits cover
Black Label Society
Grimmest Hits
Entertainment One
ver since Zakk Wylde grew a beard and opened his mouth-breathing orifice to talk, mostly shit has started spewing out. This fake biker wanna be, drunk, guitar god, narcissistically attempts to style himself after his mentor – ie Ozzy, but really fails to replicate him capably enough, thus sounding like a cheap second rate copycat. Ten albums in Black Label’s career, things remain very dazed, very confused and very generic. Zakk is a good guitar player, has a mediocre, Ozzy-like voice, he is using the Sabbath riffs an melodies as blueprints maybe even to the point of copyright infringement, but he’s a goddamn awful songwriter in his twilight years. Either he was inspired in his formative Ozzy years and nowadays he’s running on empty on the inspiration tank or he had help… no-matter, the result is just the same.
Another rather passable collection of songs, in between Z’s acoustic meanderings... some four or so years after the last one that does little to nothing to propagate the whole mythos around him, already cemented years ago by his contributions to a couple of monumental Ozzy works. Even a diehard fan would have to look back to something like “The Blessed Hellride” or earlier to find a thoroughly enjoyable BLS offering.
“Trampled Down Below” opens the album, putting a leadfoot down, but apart from a nice chorus, a decent heavy riff and some guitar slinging here and there, it’s not exactly, something that will set the world on fire.
“Seasons of Falter” has a fuckton of Sabbathisms, but also sees the vocals going a bit, the way of the late Layle Stanley – god bless his soul – and with all the flashy guitar fretwork on display it’s much more fathomable.
“The Betrayal” has a nice riff and nice guitar interplay, but it’s probably a little too simplistic, to take hold and root into memory.
“All That Once Shined” is rather mellow and the only thing that really got me what the post chorus stuff that’s going on for a bit there… otherwise it’s too samey with everything else. That’s a big issue. Making it all so “uniform” sounding is crushing down, any attempts at developing the style, even within the confines of the genre and sound. And with the vocals being so buried in the mix – it gets even more boring and less appealing.
“The Only Words” sounds like a redneck prayer crossed with “Mama I’m Coming Home”, sort of. Not something I want to hear and not something I want to hear with Zakk’s mediocre vocals moreover.
“Room of Nightmares” is heavy, swift and to the point, led by a leadweight riff but plagued by the same issues that bring the whole album down.
“A Love Unreal” is something that maybe could have sounded OK – if handed over to Ozzy, but in the hands of Zakk, most of its life is sucked straight out of.
“Disbelief” is probably the best song of the album. Simply because it’s riff is pretty close to Sabbath’s “A National Acrobat”. Also, the vocal lines don’t put all that much strain on Zakk, who mostly does his mid-range, nasal Ozzy interpretation to perfection.
That Day That Heaven Had Gone Away” has a nice Beatleasque intro and some nice soft vocals, a bit atypical for Z-man, but in doing so, it feels heads n shoulders above any of the similar “acoustic” attempts on offer here. Still, its “chorus” ain’t exactly a nugget and its bluesy atmosphere alone can’t carry all of its heavy-hearted load, without fail.
“Illusions of Peace” has some massive cyclical riffs, quite a groove, and could lead to something interesting, had it not been “held back” by Z’s boring vocal delivery. Still it’s a good moment.
“Bury Your Sorrow” again goes a little AIC’y, only a bit heavier, maybe like the first couple of Soundgarden albums and has a decent groove that keeps it afloat, alright, but these pretty decent songs tail ended on the album, do little to raise the common denominator.
“Nothing Left to Say” is the last of those schmaltzy, bluesy, ballad like songs, with a fair bit of soloing. It could belong to last year’s sequel of the “Book of Shadows” and no one would have complained or minded too much…
If you add + misses – to the “hits” of the title… I dunno really why the world needs BLS and I hardly thing this whole thing did much for Z’s career or liver, but hey… who am I to judge, a man that had to be smuggled from a backdoor in Manchester, when real bikers had his fans walk in shame with their shirts inside out, right?!
If you’re a fan it’s the same mediocre stuff of the past 10-15 years. Sticking with the earlier albums is recommended, since nothing much has happened since.