“Mafia” by Black Label Society

Artist: Black Label Society
Title: “Mafia”
Label: Artemis Records
Release Date: 3/8/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 7.5

Zakk Wylde and the boys of Black Label Society have returned with another dose of their brand of Alcohol Fueled guitar brutality. This debut release on their new label Artemis Records is entitled “Mafia” and the piece is pretty much what all fans have come to expect of Zakk and Company. Starting off with “Fire It Up” the band has an almost Trouble-like quality to it as it plods along as if this was a Doom outfit. I liked this one a lot as Zakk’s guitarwork is ever the pleasing thing to listen to. “Suicide Messiah” really has a Black Sabbath feel and drive to it and this could be the influence of all the years working with Ozzy Osbourne. I truly feel these years also had a profound impact on the development of Zakk as a singer. There are so many instances in his vocals where he sounds like a rougher Ozzy and this is actually pretty good since it always works in the context of BLS music.

Showing his softer side is the track “In This River” which is loaded with soft piano and harmony vocals. There is still time for a ripping guitar solo in the tune but I think the inclusion of this track shows how talented Zakk actually is. He is capable of doing something that could easily fall into a Southern Rock bands repertoire as well as deliver mayhem with his axe in Ozzy and BLS. Joining Zakk for the recording of this CD is James LoMenzo (who was also a member of Pride & Glory with him several years ago as well as a member of White Lion before that). Craig Nunenmacher handles the kit is very solid on the drums. Overall this was a very clean and precise production where none of the instruments overpower each other. Zakk being the leader is not overblown on the other musicians and I liked noticing that. This is definitely a CD that existing fans can get into and the newer fans as well. Zakk did not put out a CD that went over everyones head which some bands do after several releases. This is pure heavy metal in and out and very easy to find yourself headbanging to its contents. There are so many Sabbath influxes on it that it might even appeal to those hungering for riffs along those lines as well.

The booklet is loaded with liner notes and lyrics and also includes a dedication to “Dimebag”Darrell Abbott who Metal lost in December of 2004. “Dime” and Zakk were Best Friends and it was nice to see him referenced in Memorium.

Track Listing:
1. Fire It Up
2. What’s In You
3. Suicide Messiah
4. Forever Down
5. In This River
6. You Must Be Blind
7. Death March
8. Dr. Octavia
9. Say What You Will
10. Too Tough To Die
11. Electric Hellfire
12. Spread Your Wings
13. Been A Long Time
14. Dirt On The Grave

Official Web site: www.zakkwylde.com

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