CD REVIEWS ISSUE 13 Page 3
By Bob Nalbandian
BLACK LABEL SOCIETY
KINGS OF DAMNATION
You definitely get your money's worth with this Greatest Hits package given the fact that this single-disc release contains 19 songs. If you've only heard of Black Label Society but never heard their music (which seems to be common as their "biker" image is more hyped-up than the band itself) this CD is highly recommended as it not only gives the listener a taste of BLS's most popular songs, but their strongest cuts throughout their 10-year career. One major flaw on this CD though is the track sequencing, especially considering that the first four songs aren't even BLS tunes at all! Track one and two are from Zakk Wylde's previous band Pride & Glory and track three and four are from his solo acoustic CD Book Of Shadows (originally released in '96). I find this to be pretty lame marketing on behalf of Spitfire Records seeing that not only are they not BLS songs (which they neglect to indicate on the CD), they sound nothing at all like BLS! For those that remember, when Zakk Wylde had his fall-out with Ozzy following the recording of 1995's Ozzmosis he went on a country-rock binge...actually more southern-fried hillbilly-rock in the fashion of bands like Ranging Slab and Georgia Satellites. At least they included Pride & Glory's best track, the riff-raging "Horse Called War." At this point one would assume the typical metal fan would be craving the alcohol-induced sonic brewtality of BLS, but then Zakk hits them with two tracks that could easily be mistaken for Waylon Jennings. If the metal-hungry fan is able to endure the first four tracks than he/she will finally get a real dose of what BLS is truly all about. "Bored To Tears" (track 5) is perhaps the band's strongest cut to date - a relentlessly brutal riff empowers this balls-out metal anthem. Raw, intense, extreme...these are the elements that truly make BLS an integral force in metal music. The problem is the band has consistently struggled throughout the years to attain this masterful metallurgy, consequently falling prey to repetitiveness and drunken monotony. I'll be the first to proclaim that Zakk Wylde is one of the greatest riff-meister's around but it's clearly evident after listening to this CD that Zakk's skills as a song-writer are surely lacking, both lyrically and musically. Other more notable tracks include "Stillborn" that features Ozzy as guest vocalist, "We Live No More" (that features Zakk emulating Ozzy), "Bleed For Me," and "Counterfeit God." Also included on this disc are the brilliant one-to-two-minute acoustic masterpieces "Taz," "Speedball," and "Takillya." These songs alone are enough to confirm Zakk's position as a world-class guitarist alongside the likes of Eddie Van Halen and Steve Vai. Also included are two new unreleased tracks; "Doomsday Inc." and "SDMF," both typical sounding BLS tunes. What Zakk really needs is to collaborate with a gifted singer/songwriter capable of writing sophisticated and original lyrical hooks and melodies. Combine that with Zakk's monster riffs and you'll have a world-class metal band, but until that time comes, Zakk will remain to soaking his drunken sorrows in a sea of mediocrity.
SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE
I've never been a fan of this group in fact I've always considered Korn one of the bands responsible for degrading heavy metal in the '90s. But I will admit; See You On The Other Side is a pretty damn impressive release for this So-Cal band. This CD marks Korn's first release on Virgin, after recently parting ways with their imprint label Immortal/Sony. The disc kicks off with their video single "Twisted Transistor," typical korny rap/metal-hybrid crap. Fortunately the following tracks are much stronger and impressively heavy; "Hypocrites" is a bull-busting song written against organized religion, which is either ironic or perhaps intentional seeing that former guitarist Brian Welch recently left the band to pursue Christianity resulting Korn to carry on as a 4-piece, "Souvenir," "10 or a 2-way," and the pulverizing anthem "Coming Undone" (perhaps the best track on the CD) are all surprisingly powerful metal songs, something we haven't heard from this band is quite some time. Most of the other songs on this CD are pretty typical Korn numbers, with the highlights being "For No One," which displays a cool, catchy funk-metal groove, as well as the tracks "Open Up" and "Throw Me Away" which both convey a Nine Inch Nails-style industrial-laden groove. See You On The Other Side is undoubtedly Korn's strongest album since their debut released over ten years ago. Still considered the pioneers of "nu-metal" the decade old Korn is hardly "nu" anymore but much to my surprise this band is still going strong.
Shockwaves CD REVIEWS ISSUE 13 Page 4