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Album review

Black Label Society 

Catacombs of the Black Vatican

added: 14 Apr 2014 // release date: 7 Apr 2014 // label: Mascot
reviewer: Andy Snipper

Black Label Society - Catacombs of the Black Vatican - Printable version
There were a number of good reasons for Zakk Wylde to join Ozzy Osbourne back in the ‘90’s, not the least was his devotion to Randy Rhoads as an inspiration – he is also no mean axeman or songwriter and Black Label Society has been causing heads to bang and ears to bleed for over fifteen years.

This is BLS’s first new album since ‘The Order Of The Black’ in 2009 and while it follows that classic in style it feels somehow heavier and darker than before with Wylde’s vocals moving well into Ozzy territory.

From start to finish the album is powerful, full of riffs and blinding solos John Deservio’s bass is fluid and blasts a rhythm with Chad Szeliga on drums and it lays a foundation for Wylde and Dario Lorina to rip out some great slabs of sound.

There are some moments of quiet among the bombast – ‘Angel of Mercy’ could almost fall into an EMO space with some lovely acoustic and Wylde demonstrating that he has a singing voice as well as the heavy. The guitar break is beautiful and dense – this one is going to be a stage favourite for years to come. ‘Scars’ similarly, has a softer sound and a dark message to an acoustic number

Opening track ‘Fields of Unforgiveness’ sets more of a standard feel with a massive beat and howling axes under Wylde’s dark vocals and ‘Believe’ has a great riff in the centre – very Sabbath and no bad thing for it.
Black Label Society are a band who can play it heavy and dark but aren’t afraid of emotion or autobiography and the album has shades and colours – more than you might expect – as well as the black and dark.

A very welcome return to form and an excellent album that shows the band in a 3 dimensional light.




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4 stars

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