Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault – Black Label Society

I don’t have a lot of Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society on physical. I have three albums from BLS and his Pride and Glory album, which I will talk about when I get to the letter P.

But I do stream his songs like crazy from the last two albums, “Catacombs Of The Black Vatican” and “Grimmest Hits” and I have written various blog posts about certain tracks from those albums.

Anyway, let’s talk about what I have in my collection.

1919 Eternal

This is the first physical purchase I got from BLS.

I didn’t jump on the BLS earlier releases when they came out. Maybe I just wanted Zakk to work with Ozzy and write music for Ozzy only. Whatever the case, this was my first entry.

“Bleed For Me” kicks off the album.

The speed metal like riff and sparse production got me interested.

The syncopated verse riff which merges the speed metal riff from the intro and the vocal melody sound brutal. The kicking chorus melody and that riff under it is perfect.

This grave of life, I give to you
Ignore what was, you know it’s true
Realms of fear, they speak the truth
What has past, I hand to you

Bleed for me, I’ve bled for you
Embrace me, child, I’ll see you through

Zakk put a tribute to his Dad in the booklet, and the title “1919 – Eternal” is in reference to his Dad’s year of birth and how his memory to Zakk is eternal.

A lot of the songs reference WW2, a war his father was involved in. Zakk is writing in a conversation sense. It’s like we are a fly on the wall, while Zakks father is telling him about his views on life.

“Lords Of Destruction” basically destroys.

The talk box vocal melody, the fast picked metal riffs and that droning/ringing note makes this song fit the modern metal scene which at that time involved bands like Korn, Spineshank and Disturbed.

But make no mistake, this is Zakk paying homage to his heavier Black Sabbath influences first and then decorating the song as he sees fit.

Walk in my world of war and mass confusion
Peace is a word that no one cares of knowing
Death is the drug of choice amongst the masses
Engines of hell forever burning faster

So powerful.

In my lifetime there have been small wars here and there about oil and dick sizes.

The biggest global conflict I have seen is COVID-19.

And it’s funny how some of the governments tried to keep the economy open even though the scientists told them to lockdown much early on. So the body count kept rising and then they acted.

I guess death still is the drug of choice amongst our leaders.

“Demise Of Sanity” has a head banging riff throughout.

It’s gonna break you, son, it’s gonna rot you through
Forget the past and all you ever knew
You’ve never known such fear, you’ve never shed such tears
It’ll have you wishin’ you were never here

All that has been, all that’s to be
No tomorrow, the demise of sanity

The war stories of Mr 1919 Eternal Wylde continue. I can’t even remember Zakk’s real name or surname. It feels weird to type Wylde.

I studied WW2 in History at school and one of the texts we looked at, was letters sent back home to loved ones, and a similar quote stood out to me, about, not knowing such fear.

“Life Birth Blood Doom” has the excellent chorus line of “Life birth blood doom, the hole in the ground is coming around soon”.

I walk through fire, I feel no pain
Fields of war which fuel my veins
In the end, son, I was once like you
Cut me, child, you’ll see I bleed

War changes everything. Events change people.

How will the current pandemic change everything?

“Bridges To Cross” feels like it came from the 70’s and Zakk has a certain style when it comes to ballad like songs which just works for me. And the lyrics on this song just connect.

Hands on the wheel
All is straight ahead
Left behind

Having a car and hitting the open road gave me freedom.

Freedom to leave behind whatever I wanted to leave behind.

But my Dad once said that the family and the ties to the family play the biggest part in a person’s live. He had the guts to leave Europe behind, even when his Dad (my grandfather) threatened to kill all of my Dad’s brothers and sisters if Dad left. It was my grandfather’s way of making Dad stay. Dad called his bluff and made his way to Australia.

Second guessing all that I once said
I once said

My spirit is bent and there’s blood on my hands
The more I’m down, the less I understand
Once so found, now so lost
I ask no questions, it’s just one more bridge to cross

I struggled between the ages of 30 and 35. It was a great time and a tough time. I don’t even know how that makes sense.

During that period my life went from no kids to three kids. The most beautiful moments of my life. Suddenly I had responsibilities, and that scared me a lot. I had to care and provide for someone more than me.

And one of my kids got so sick he spent all up 21 days in hospital as the only way the antibiotic could be administered to a three year old child was via a drip. The relationship with my wife was up and down, as financial pressures and children and our own needs, made the arguments worse.

At least my entertainment budget didn’t diminish, much to the displeasure of others. I couldn’t stop that. It would have been the end of me, if I couldn’t go out and buy CD’s and experience new music.

All is black and white
Wouldn’t change even if I could
I’ll take what I’m handed
Whether it’s damned or if it’s good
If it’s good
If it’s good

Amen.

Truth in those words.

Eventually all of the memories and the past become words on pages which will eventually tell the history of my life or our lives. I will take what I’m handed and I will do the best I could to make it work, regardless if its damned or not.

“Battering Ram” feels like the “You Could Be Mine” drum intro on acid and steroids. And the lead break is insane. Chromatic craziness I call it.

For I am eternal, battering ram

I love that lyric line.

It brings back memories of “Battery” from Metallica and “Bulldozer” from Machine Head. Because if you want to live your life as free as possible, you need to be a battering ram, putting aside all the restrictions which people place in front of you and try to stop you from chasing your dreams.

“Refuse To Bow Down” and “Beserkers” have some brutal riffs in those songs.

“America The Beautiful” is a nice acoustic 2 minute piece that basically sounds like you step outside your house, breathe in the smells of your area, hear the sounds and just smile at how beautiful and peaceful it all is.

Overall, it doesn’t have big songs like his Ozzy days but a lot of songs with some excellent riffage.

The Blessed Hellride

This came next. By buying this, it felt like I was joining a motorcycle bike crew.

“Stoned And Drunk” kicks off the album.

Poppin’ pills and drinkin’ booze, smokin’ everyday
Stoned and drunk completely gone,
my world is here to stay

As Zakk says in one of the verses, “were I’m rolling, I’m never knowing”.

It’s easy to fall into dependencies and so hard to get out. I’ve seen it with my older brother, four times caught drunk driving, and each time was meant to be the last time. And now his marriage has crumbled apart and every time I call, he’s drunk, completely gone.

It’s a vicious cycle.

“Doomsday Jesus” grabbed me by the throat and threw me down to the ground with its metallic precision and syncopated riffs merged with sludgy Sabbath. And because Zakk developed a voice that sounds like Ozzy, it’s like I’m listening to an Ozzy album song.

Horsemen rolls, tomorrow’s fading fast

When those biblical horsemen roll through town, there will not be much left. Or they could join the party and get high and drunk with everyone else. Either way, the horsemen win.

I was already familiar with the riffs from “Stillborn” as Guitar World had a transcription and I started to play the riffs.

But I was blown away at how good the vocal melodies are.

Plus the Ozzman makes an appearance as “The Special Guest” because Sony (or maybe, you know who) wouldn’t allow them to use Ozzy’s name to promote the album.

How good is that bit, “I waited here for you, so loooooong”.

“Final Solution” is a pinch harmonic festival and man, that riff before the solo, which becomes the backing riff for the solo, is powerful.

Plus the solo is a guitar hero spotlight.

“Destruction Overdrive” has this 16th note riff that keeps rolling on about a song which tells us that the masses gather around as the drug of choice is found and the hate machine keeps rolling on.

“Blackened Waters” is one of those Zakk Wylde “ballad to rock” songs with that 70’s classic rock and metal feel. And that last 1 minute and 10 seconds, is excellent as it all quietens down and then builds up into the solo.

Mafia

This was a first week purchase.

And man “Fire It Up” just gets me rocking every time.

That talk box intro through a voice loudspeaker for the main riff is perfect and when the whole band fires up, its head banging time.

Fire It Up
Let the engines roll

It should be everyone’s daily motto. Fire up your engine and starting rolling.

Accept your war
It is what it is

Own your decisions, your mistakes and your greatest achievements. It is what it is. Your greatest competition is you.

“Suicide Messiah” is another rocker and “Forever Down” has a wicked guitar solo.

“In This River” is a great song. The way Zakk plays the piano is very 70’s like. It just has this classic rock feel.

In this river all shall fade to black
In this river ain’t no coming back

“Been A Long Time” sounds like a cross between “War Pigs” and one of those songs that Zakk was involved in via the “Rock Star” movie with Mark Wahlberg.

“I Never Dreamed” is a Lynyrd Skynyrd cover and it has a kicking intro lead which keeps on repeating throughout the song and it gets me interested.

Well that’s a wrap on Black Label Society, I think Bad Company is next.

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11 thoughts on “The Record Vault – Black Label Society

  1. I was really hot and cold on BLS. Debut was a let down but then it really grew on me. Then I started to get fed up with them and then they hit out with great albums like Mafia and Shot To Hell. And then I saw them live… total shite! And that finally killed my interest. Not really paid attention since.

      • I suppose I am! Not as hard to please as, Deke though lol. But the stuff you’ve got is the point where I dug them the most. It was the second album and then the Brewtality album where I got a bit skeptical. But 1919 Eternal got me back on board for a while. And the live show… I think Zakk was probably pretty drunk.

      • Lol there are a lot of BLS songs that have smoking, tripping, drinking, raising rifles, getting high and all that.
        I remember reading that Zakk had a Heath scare between 2010 and 2013 and more or less sobered up.

      • Yes thats right. He’s all about the coffee now! Gig I saw would have been 2007 or thereabouts so there was a few years to go. He wasn’t totally steaming but there was just a lot of messing about. I got very bored.

  2. Pride and Glory is a great album. Love that one. I just for some reason cannot get into BLS. Put Zakk with Ozzy and I will give it a shot but I don’t know. Guess I’m not biker material haha

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