Hard Reviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Black Label Society - Stronger Than Death

Zakk Wylde is certainly an enigma, a foul-mouthed Jack-swilling axe hero of the old school, having cut his teeth with Ozzy, even getting to play a rush gig with his heroes the Allman Brothers after Dickie Betts busted up his old lady and a cop. But the music he makes is all serious, pensive, decidely not the party metal you would expect from his tall and blond-tressed frame. For indeed, this second (more or less) solo album under the Black Label moniker is dark, doomy, textured like 50-grit, and stompingly metallic. That is save for the album's highlights, its foreboding ballads (see Rust and piano piece Just Killing Time) which sound like Alice In Chains smoked in Wylde's stunning Gregg Allman drone. The metal is almost always about weight, slow, lumbering, again drawing strength through Zakk's sonorous blues drawl. For a man who balances optimism with trash-talked anger of a surface sort, it's a surprisingly large, wide, evil and violent dogpound the man builds. No question where Ozzy's heaviest tracks came from, that's for sure, Stronger Than Death sounding like hurtful Sabbath squeezed drunk and kicking through a southern rock sausage grinder.
Rating 8.5

Love/Hate - Greatest & Latest

Normally (like say for the poofs in Warrant) there'd be little point to this idea of re-playing your old tunes and throwing on a couple new ones. But this is Love/Hate, the Jiz he-self, so bring it on! Here are all those sky-straddling metal wonders from one of sleaze's most under-rated, and here's the scoop: these versions are quite different and useful in that difference. Generally, they are warmer, heavier, thicker, slower and at the same time funkier, with Jizzy sounding way nasty, not as full-range or perfect, but pinched, slightly back and hollerin' ragged, oddly less appealing than on the originals, but only by a slash, which still puts him soaring above all cummers. Man, what a splendid, suspended spread of gut-swilled metal. These. The new tracks are sadly quite casual, perhaps reflecting Jiz's latest industry jerk-around with those L.A. Guns scumbags. And I can't believe Ratt would pass on Jiz for Joe LeSte. I mean, at least Pearcy could stay in tune in the studio. Anyway, Wish I Had More Time is a cozy enough ballad, what with that harmonica, but man, butt these closers up against the firepower and brainpower of old Love/Hate, and they can only sit and cynically smirk.
Rating 8

Hard Reviews Page 4