There’s nothing surprising about this new – the eleventh by the way – Black Label Society album. Zakk Wylde still draws inspiration from the same teachers, father Iommi and father Page mostly, it’s his nature, it’s what he enjoys, and he sees no reason to do things differently. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Depends on your taste, on how you balance familiarity versus innovation, in any case the intent is crystal clear.
The record begins with ‘Set You Free’ and its great muscular riff, followed by ‘Destroy & Conquer’, a first cousin of ‘2X4’ off ‘Load’, and keeps the momentum going with ‘You Made Me Want to Live’. The whole album isn’t as good unfortunately, despite the unescapable groove of ‘Gospel of Lies’ or the beautiful leads featured on ‘Shelter Me’. ‘Doom Crew Inc.’s three ballads for example don’t add any value to the record and are easily forgotten.
To sum things up, a charismatic guitarist, who, knowingly so, insists on the fundamentals. To be honest, there aren’t that many artists nowadays that are capable of doing that so well. Besides, most of Zakk’s influences are either retired or keeping a watchful eye upon us from the hard rock paradise above.