Crime Records

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Black Label Society - Catacombs of the Black Vatican Review

"Fields of Unforgiveness"  
"Angel of Mercy"  
"Heart of Darkness"  
"Beyond the Down"  
"Damn the Flood"  
"I've Gone Away"  
"Empty Promises"  
"Shades of Gray"
Bonus tracks
12. Dark Side of the Sun
13. Nomad
I have to confess that I was eager for this album to come out. I saw Zakk Wylde on THAT METAL SHOW yakking it up, smugly telling jokes and reminiscing of unwashed post concert bar visits. I sat in front of my TV, scratching my head. I wondered how the man who perpetrated UNBLACKENED upon loyal fans could be so smarmy. So, when this album dropped, I wanted to hear it. I wanted the reason Zakk was so jovial to be that he had returned to his metal ways and had given us something to repay the debt created by UNBLACKENED’s sins.
As I downloaded the album, another thought crossed my mind:”What if that bastard was shmucking it up because he’s released another joke of an album?” Anxiety began to cause me to drum my fingers excessively on the table. The album finished downloading and I hit play…
“Fields of Unforgiveness” picks up where ORDER OF THE BLACK left off. Chrunching guitars, squealing [inch harmonics, fear inducing bass lines and wall shattering drums pushed aside my fears and rewarded me with what I had craved. Zakk’s whiskey drenched vocals were icing on the cake.
“My Time of Dying” continues the assault. It’s possibly the strongest track on the album. The bass line weaves it’s way through the song like a viper, preparing the victim the strike to the jugular.
“Believe” has dirty groove that reminds me of late 1980′s LA metal. It has me thinking Zakk was listening to some Izzy Stradlin. This is a good thing. I could see myself shooting pool in a sleazy dive, listening to this song.
The album presents three ballads (four, if you have the extended album with bonus tracks). They are all good songs, well written and strongly performed. They all are drenched with the fumes of classic Southern rock. Allman Brothers, Elvin Bishop, the soul grooves of the Muscle Shoals performers…all make their influence felt in these songs. These are the songs to make your girlfriend appreciate your taste in music and improve your chances of getting laid. They also create the musical nest for some of Zakk’s best solos in years. This makes for a nice combination: songsyou can air guitar to and bone your girlfriend to (yes, I know it’s a dangling participle).
The regular album has eleven tracks; the bonus edition offers two more tracks. Nine bone crushing tunes cushioned by four smooth gulps of fire water. I listened to the last notes of “Nomad” (the bonus album’s closer) fade and noticed my anxiety was gone. Then, I smiled. That stinky, smarmy bastard had pulled me back into the fold of the faithful and had repaid me for UNBLACKENED’s abominations