Review: Black Label Society – Catacombs of the Black Vatican

Posted: May 9, 2014 in Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

I’d like to officially welcome aboard my good friend Paul Geary as a contributor to my site. He and I have bonded over metal for a long time, and I while away the hours making sure he is listening to the good stuff. Speaking of the good stuff, this is his review of the latest Black Label Society record, ‘Catacombs of the Black Vatican’. Consider your blog virginity ripped from you Geary.

Black Label Society. BLS. The band that made the biker cuts and the outlaw title cool long before Sons of Anarchy. ‘Catacombs of the Black Vatican’. Four years removed from the Order of the Black I step into this knowing that the wheel will not be reinvented. There will be slabs of riffs. There will be ballads. Oh yeah. There will be SOLOS.
Amazing skull laden album cover aside the first thing I notice from this offering is the Ozzy worship vocal delivery has decreased, much to this man’s joy. While on some level I understand that working with your hero will rub off I always felt the deeper, gravelly deliver suited the bearded wonder more.
‘Fields of Unforgiveness’ starts us off with a doom tempoed stomp. ‘My Dying Time’ and ‘Believe’ both have that replay value of hard rock rhythm and groove so often found with this band.
‘Angel of Mercy’ is the first ballad and as you would expect of a man that balances tender song writing with a beard Asgard would welcome it’s a journey. The mellow acoustic start breaking way to the familiar sound of Zakk saying ” it’s electric time” however where this differs and where I first noticed the story of the record. Metal Odin has learned that less is more. The solos don’t have all the notes involved. Sweet relief!!
‘Heart of Darkness’ returns the stomp and aggression that is the signature of the band with ‘Beyond the Down’ following suit. It’s thick it’s dirty and it’s fantastic.  ‘Scars’ drops us down a notch again while Zakk kicks out of one the best acoustic tracks that isn’t an unplugged version in some time. The best part? The majestic measured solo. ‘Damn the Flood’ kickstarts us again with all the thumping, rifftastic pinched harmonics you could want. An instant beer swigging classic. ‘I’ve Gone Away’ encourages you to down beer and headbang like a teenager to HEAVINESS and power grab as you sing, cause you know, that’s how its done when you’re having a blast. ‘Empty Promises’ is damn catchy. It’s in ownership of that kind of hook that you wake up muttering. I dare you not too. Did I mention the ripping solo? I feel I should. His Beardness finds the notes in his own way while remembering that the note bend is all air guitarists dream.
‘Shades of Grey’ ends this journey on a mellow note. A suitable closing effort to wind down what I feel is the strongest end to end album since the sterling 1919 Eternal. Stick it on. Turn it up and rejoice. The Riff lives on.

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