By Charlotte Alexander | Go Venue Magazine
Dark and unpredictable times often inspires artists to reflect the state of our world in such gloomy and inconsistent days, and high-octane bluesy fueled worldwide metal band Black Label Society is no exception.
They may have actually been exceptional, while also being astoundingly prophetic in their album Doom Crew Inc. which will be released on Black Friday, but was written a while ago, in lead singer Zakk Wylde‘s home studio, The Black Vatican.
What went on in that studio wasn’t exactly a relayed description of what we had already experienced in a global pandemic, that led to lockdowns in society, across the planet, especially the touring and live artistic expressions of significant musicians. It more accurately describes the times we are getting a dose of now, in many countries with drastic and draconian measures of control, and what may still be to come.
The publicity on the album, to be released by Entertainment One (eOne) on Friday, November 26th, claims the 12-track album “is both a tribute to the “first to bleed, last to leave” road crew and a salute to the legion whose support, stretching back to 1998, rivals that of the KISS Army,” and are “odes to celebration of life and mourning.”
There has been loss of life as we knew it, and there should be a period of mourning. We should also celebrate that the freedom to express sentiments in music still exists, and we have options to experience these artistic human creations.
“Farewell Ballard” is the final song on Doom Crew Inc. and the hauntingly constructed instrumentals tell a story all their own. The beauty of interpretation is that we all get to determine for ourselves what the story is, but the intensely dreary theme of an altered existence is weaved in every individual soulful sound on the album. Maybe we are on the verge of the extinction of humanity, as we know it, and just maybe “End of Days” is telling you, it’s already happened. We’re here. Things have changed.
It’s not unusual for this introspective band to relate or invoke an emotion, just with the killer introduction riffs they are known for alone, but it’s Wylde‘s aching voice in the lyrics that awakens a realization that things will never be the same, for anyone, anywhere, in the world.
A numbing down of society may be taking place by people who feel worn out to near complacency, with restrictions and paranoid fears of contamination, and artists like these talented and incredible souls, that dare to paint the pictures in sounds, may be the only ones truly left to convey what we’ve all been feeling. They say it out loud. While they still get to. Things have changed. They’re artists telling all of our experiences, in music. It’s worth a listen.
Towards the end of August, the first single, on Black Label Society‘s 11th studio album, “Set You Free” was released from this caged debut, and almost hints at a brief nod to a modernized version of a Led Zeppelin style resonance before brutally slashing into a bass blasting arsenal of an impending doom by John “J.D.” DeServio on bass, and distinctly direct assaults by ballistics drummer Jeff Fabb, that is set to explode within just a few seconds of the intro. Wylde gets right into the reasons why he wielded the ax for Ozzy Osbourne years ago, and he shares the performance, and the riffs he’s become legendary for, with guitarist Dario Lorina, a seasoned and accomplished talent in his own stately shredded right. Lorina is in the shadow of no one. And Wylde never fails to acknowledge his presence with a fueling dual extension of prominence in the music world.
The metal influences aren’t subtle. It’s the audible equivalent of having a nightmare revealed to you, with familiar tones, only through a more intensified and amplified sounds, and your imagination is left to go off into the directions of your own mind. Anytime we set something or someone free, there’s a loss of familiarity that we just don’t want to face.
Describing the elements of those predicaments that no one escapes, the only absence that could sadly be felt here, may be the physical audience and fans who sit outside the fence if they’re unable to attend live venue concerts, without proof of an injection that many are still refusing. In many countries, live touring has come to a halt. No one can say for certain when those gates will open again.
Without getting too political, the music and song choices on “Doom” relates to the environment of today’s world, and if you can’t get to a show at a live venue event, you can still collect an array of selections of these established artists and this album, on vinyl, CD, cassette tapes and on digital downloads on Friday.
The opening track, though, invokes a concert vibe necessity that you just crave when the band blasts out the heavy hitting ornaments that could easily decorate a live stage. You can imagine feeling every bomb they set off on a live tour and what that might look like, sound like. You know what it will feel like, and they put the desire there, in this early teasing release.
Wylde drops the hammer down and then nails you into wanting that live concert experience on the very first track.
“Destroy_Conquer” then bleeds us into a battle cry of an eerily fatalistic injection of “saddened by the news, the sun no longer shines upon this life that I once knew,” with a conflicting hope of rebellion in “You Made Me Want to Live.” The crossing metal strings is unrelenting in its complexity, and the bass line sound off is perfection in the end.
By the time you get to “Forever and a Day’ you are required to calm down, and it’s the words, the hallowed vocals of Wylde expressing, in every talent that he has, a thundering void with “things that can not stay.”
Reminiscent of the sentiments of Ozzy‘s “Changes” and Judas Priest‘s “Victim of Changes,” Wylde takes the lead in picking up where metal left off and updates, to an imperial extent, that the songs “Ruins” and the nearly six-minutes of a falling feeling that “Forsaken” takes us, in an endless black hole of uncertainty. It’s almost filled with despair until you get to the flickering veil of a pleading call for redemption in “Love Reigns Down” and “Gospel of Lies,” before finding a bit of solace in “Shelter Me.”
The fans, the crew, the people that make Black Label Society possible has, for nearly two decades, sheltered these musicians in an expectation of excellence and the unforeseen fate in our world has left us all in a cocoon of confusion when, in many places, we still have to go without that live performance environment, but these guys poured it all out in the studio to let us know that they were feeling the effects of these changes, and we can all relate to the “Doom” and gloom we’ve all experienced for nearly two years now, in loss, in fears and concerns, and a reason to find a way to hold on to those things that make us human, the artistic expression of souls.
“Gather all my Sins” may be something many of us find ourselves doing in such unstable and uncertain days in the distance, and the final track, I can’t stop coming back to that, a 6 minute and 41 second “Farewell Ballad” that will have fans saying “please don’t go away Zakk.”
The excruciating talents of this incredible story telling band is evidence that Black Label Society can take the crown away from a culture of music by not surrendering to the confines of constraint, without giving in to exporting nothingness, and they are bodily significant, necessary, inspiring and realistic in the reflection of the times.
“Come tomorrow, I’ll be waiting evermore,” for the live experience of your masterpiece. We’re at a level that exceeds our expectations in music, and Black Label Society earns its place in the reign of connecting with the listener.
We’ll remember how you made us feel in this Black Friday release. That’s powerful. Effective. And The Point.