BLACK LABEL SOCIETY Skullage DVD + CD collectors’ edition (Eagle Rock)
It’s easy to chuckle and snigger at heavy metal, with its cartoony imagery, leather uniforms and its creed of “faster and louder” but scrape beneath the superficial and like any other genre of music, you will find genuine artists who are simply good at what they do i.e. entertain and provoke thought.
I must confess that when I received this DVD + CD package in the mail, I laughed out loud. It took me a while to give it a go but here’s the review, better late then never. For someone who grew up on Deep Purple, Led Zepellin, Rainbow, Mountain, KISS, Rush, Budgie et al, you can bet I appreciate a tasty riff now and then but always leavened with melody, where possible.
Now Zakk Wylde, the brains behind BLS, is probably best known as the guitar sidesman of Ozzy Osbourne and judging from the cover artwork of skulls, killer dogs, beer and guns, I expected non-stop headbanging stereotypes to be ripping from the get-go. Instead, the opening scene on the DVD is Wylde on stage (somewhere in France) alone with a freakin’ acoustic guitar singing Spoke in the Wheel! Sure, the rest of BLS join Wylde at the end for a terribly loooong solo but hey, it sure got my attention. And of course, the rest of the live performances and videos revert to type somewhat.
Then, I slot in the CD compilation and I’m hit with two Southern Rock numbers – Machine Gun Man and Dead As Yesterday – with the latter track an absolute killer with acoustic guitar and cello (!) and a chorus that goes – “Oh Lord, can you help me find some shelter” and a string accompaniment that will touch you! And no guitar solo?!! What the hell is going on? Heh. The rest of the CD delivers blistering metal with 13 Years of Grief, Doomsday Jesus and Suicide Messiah. Pretty fine old school metal in fact.
But… the icing on the cake is the interview section where we find out a little more (too much?) about Wylde. He talks about his friendship with the late Dimebag Darrell Abbott, the stories behind the songs, his obsession with Barbie dolls and his penchant for wearing pretty dresses. Definitely someone who isn’t taking himself or his music too seriously (those Black Metal blokes may wanna take note!).
So, despite initial reservations, I would recommend this package to all metal & non-metal fans purely to enjoy honest-to-goodness rock music without pretensions or arrogance. Good enough for me.
Check out Black Label Society’s Myspace page.