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Sonic Brew

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  • Take about a keg of beer, a Gibson guitar, and a hick with the talent to play it, and you’ll get something resembling SONIC BREW. This is a hefty slab of “suth’n frahd” heavy metal, very similar in style to some other bands as Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar, Eyehategod, and some of Phil Anselmo’s (Pantera singer, for the uneducated) various bands.Zakk Wylde, long known for his work with Ozzy Osbourne, formed his brief band Pride & Glory (another “redneck metal” band) back in 1994, but they broke up after their first and only album. Then in 1996 he released his solo album, BOOK OF SHADOWS, which was mostly acoustic folk and country music. Then, slightly overlapped by this boozy southern rock-influenced period, he released this album under the moniker Black Label Society in 1998.This album is heavy as SIN. Just listen to…well, any song. Almost every song is so damn heavy, with overdubbed, chugging, no doubt downtuned guitars and endless levels of distortion. The bass rumbles with the sound of the breaks of an 18-wheeler, and the drums (kudos to Phil Ondich, formerly of another southern metal band, Raging Slab) pound away with talented power.No two songs sound the same, yet at the same time, the whole album just trucks on by with it’s uber-heavy southern-influenced metal. All of them, of course, except “T.A.Z.,” which is a short acoustic instrumental. Always thought that acoustic guitar was not good for shredding? Just listen to this and prepare to poop your pants.Zakk’s solos dazzle, of course, and he is the king of riffs. He’s a great acoustic guitarist also, as well as pianist, bassist, and of course…SINGER! So many people tend to neglect how talented he is as a singer. From deep, growled (but not death metal) snarls to clean, powerful singing, he can do it all. He has to be one of the most talented musicians out there to this day.By the way, the lyrics are nothing masterful or heartfelt; most of the time, Zakk is singing about drinking, or…well, mostly drinking. He’s a heavy drinker, but he works out a lot to keep his body in shape (hence his bulging muscle-look). So don’t worry about this promoting drinking to kids, but don’t expect ultra well-written lyrics, either.The bass in most of the songs is splendidly performed by Zakk himself, and is also monstrously distorted. Just listen to the intro and verses to “Mother Mary” and see for yourself! When Zakk does heavy, he means HEAVY.Phil Ondich’s drumming is very good. He forms fairly complex patterns, is fast, and fits Black Label Society’s style with perfection. I’m very curious to check out his work with Raging Slab now.The songs are all great, but my favorites by far are “The Rose Petalled Garden,” with it’s overdubbed intro, very Alice in Chains-esque in its sludginess, “Hey You (Batch of Lies)” with its great, catchy chorus, and “Peddlers of Death” (a heavier cover of one of his own BOOK OF SHADOWS-era songs). This last one is rather eerie with its synthesizer/piano-peppered verses, and yet it’s so heavy, with a wonderful guitar solo. n Also, his cover of “No More Tears” is phenomenally heavy, with ultra-chugging guitar riffs replacing the classic bass intro. Finally, I’ve recently become a fan of “World of Trouble.” LISTEN to that riff in the verses and just try to tell me it isn’t catchy and worth headbanging to. Unbelievable.Finally, I’d just like to state that never seems to listen to me when I try to correct the information on this band. Yes, Zakk Wylde is involved, but the band really is called JUST “Black Label Society”; not “Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society.” Also, the cover is DIFFERENT now, guys…Oh well.Now pop out the beers and turn up the volume, because Black Label Society is here to rock your world with southern-fried heavy metal! YEE-HAW!

    Posted on November 16, 2009