Black Label Society - 'Catacombs Of The Black Vatican'

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Black Label Society - 'Catacombs Of The Black Vatican'

An album fans have been patiently waiting for.

Black Label Society have just released 'Catacombs Of The Black Vatican': an album their fans have been patiently waiting for. The last few years BLS have done an unplugged variation of previous songs; we now want the heavy, aggressive BLS back, with the dirtiest of riffs, hefty grooves and destructive drums.

The opening title 'Fields Of Unforgiveness' is not what your ear will expect. It is a laid-back opener, which is very reminiscent of 'Losin' Your Mind'. It's not an ear-catcher to say the least. There is an Alice in Chains similarity that carries through into the riffs and vocal melodies in the second track 'My Dying Time'. The good choice of intervals, the head-banging groove and a solo featuring an ear blistering tone, finally gets things kicked off. Fourth track in and BLS take things down with 'Angel Of Mercy' as Zakk Wylde takes on a cleaner, lighter vocal and guitar tone. It is simple but effective, with a satisfying acoustic break and an introduction of strings and classic piano. 'Heart Of Darkness' brings an up-tempo, Funky feel but one that is monotonous towards the end of the song due to the lack of dynamics. The signature Wylde solo kicks in, as the Funky, fast-paced riff is still going strong. It creates a fuzzy, messy sound, with no diction and hints at an inability to focus on the solo. This messy composition seems to appear in many tracks while the production feels very rushed. 'Beyond The Down' has what feels like badly engineered drumming...and there are times where drumming feels like it goes out of time; it does not represent what rhythm guitar and bass are playing. There is a lack of passion, cohesion and chemistry which in turn brings many songs, that should be good tracks, down.

What is surprising is there is a similar style to Alter Bridge and even Slash's material; 'Scars' and 'Damn The Flood'. Most songs also follow the same musical structure making it predictable, especially in the solos; let's just say there is a lot of usage of the wah-wah pedal. The production quality is poor and this is from the man who has written some of the greatest songs in recent Rock history. It is highly favourable and focused towards the guitar, so everything else suffers. Basically, those expecting the 'usual and traditional' Black Label Society should look elsewhere.

Lara Kisel

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