Black Label Society – “Catacombs Of The Black Vatican” (Mascot Label Group)
Man, I’ve been following this dude since I heard the roaring biker rock of “Stronger Than Death” back in 2000. Recently bestowed with titles like Classic Rock’s ‘Metal Guru’, ‘Golden God’ by Metal Hammer and the ‘Best Guitarist’ award from Revolver, these days he’s a somewhat more mellower dude when he’s not shaking it stage left to the mighty Ozzy, although like a maturing whisky his quality more than makes up for any kick. The second album to be recorded in his home studio – The Black Vatican hence the title – showcases a wide degree of rock metal talent from the stadium shaking rock of opener ‘Fields Of Unforgiveness’ to the cool southern groove rock of ‘Heart Of Darkness’ and the slightly more Zepp trippy ‘Beyond The Down’ as Wylde brings it on in fine style showing the measure of his song writing as well as his musicianship. When he does go back to his ass kicking bar room shaking best it’s on ‘Damn The Flood’ with its hard crunching riffs and stamping beat. No sooner as the steam clears and the delicate ‘Shades Of Grey’ closes out the album, with me almost wondering if that soft crooning voice on this rock doo wop ballad really belongs to this mean lookin’ 6 feet 2 inch biker dude?! Well credit to him, as Wylde has bravely produced an album that panders more to his spirit of fun and excitement rather than any trend of playing it safe – his wildness has been let loose outta these catacombs amidst kick ass riffs, hell fer leather soloing and dagger thru my heart harmonies that will appeal to any rock dog sinner!