One of my all-time favourite bands is Black Label Society. Formed 20 years ago, Zakk Wylde had stepped away from his years as the guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne and formed his own heavy metal band.
Over the past few months, I had noticed a new BLS album on the shelves of our local record store, but when glancing at the cover and seeing the title Grimmest Hits, I dismissed it as a greatest hits compilation and didn’t give it a second look. A few weeks ago, I was perusing the shelves, looking for some new music to bring with Isabelle and I on an up-coming road trip. That’s when my eyes passed over this album cover again, but I noted a sticker saying “12 brand new tracks”. So I immediately picked it up and headed home with it.
The last few BLS albums have been solid, but not overly remarkable. There are always 1-2 tracks that I really like, but nothing that has made it onto my regular playlists since the first few albums. Grimmest Hits is a completely different beast. I absolutely fell in love with the album and consider it my favourite Black Label Society album since the original record, Sonic Brew, from 1998.
Tonally, this album has a number of songs akin to Black Sabbath. This may be due to Zakk having been touring with his Zakk Sabbath side-project for a couple of years now, immersing himself in that classic metal sound. The riffs sound like they could have come straight off of a Black Sabbath album from the 1970s, and it’s a beautiful thing!
There are also a few songs that would be at home on Zakk’s acclaimed solo album Book of Shadows. Gone are the growls and screaming vocals, with a welcome return to his more melodic vocal stylings. I’ve always been more of a fan of this Zakk Wylde. I’m hoping that this indicates the direction that he will be heading going forward.
While I do not feel that most of the people who usually check out my blog will be swayed to rush out and pick up some BLS albums, maybe someone out there will discover something new.