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Top Ten Favorite Albums of the Last Two Years: #3 Catacombs of the Black Vatican by Black Label Society

Black Label Society was a heavy metal group of the last fifteen years with their star attraction of Zakk Wylde on guitar. Zakk Wylde was the third guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne during Ozzy Osbourne’s solo career and made half of Ozzy’s solo albums with Ozzy such as the great No More Tears, No Rest For the Wicked and Black Rain. Zakk Wylde then went on to have his own solo career and churned out a whole bunch of generic but rocking albums.

For several years Black Label Society tried out a different musical direction with acoustic albums such as the Song Remains the Same and Unblackened but finally they have returned again to what they are best at, guitar shredding and rocking and rolling. It’s good to hear a heavy, thrashing album from them again.

Fields of Unforgiveness blasts right out of the gate with a typical death metal song meaning that tears down all of the sappy, flash in the pan sentiment pop music has been building up in the last several years. My Dying Time like any good death metal song is about the glory of death. Believe has a nice, funky, cool groove to it with some embellishes. Angel of Mercy is a ballad that tries to show the sensitive side of these guitar maniacs but fails because it doesn’t stick with what Black Label Society is truly best at.

Heart of Darkness has a nice, circulating guitar riff and then launches into some crunchy, truly gnarly vocals and guitar licks. The chorus is great as well. Beyond the Down has a thing I like to call metallic swing, the kind of thing you’d listen to while walking down the side walk with a trench coat billowing behind you and not really caring it’s eighty degrees out because it just looks so damn cool. Scars is another ballad, yikes. Damn the Flood really rockets along and pummels you right in the face on its way to your ear drums.

I’ve Gone Away couldn’t be more wrong because Zakk Wylde is back in black with a guitar attack. Empty Promises starts out with some nice, ominous build up. Shades of Grey is not a good way to end the album because it is another ballad.

While this album doesn’t really push any boundaries, it’s a nice return to form for Black Label Society, displays the guitar might of Zakk Wylde, third axeman for Ozzy, and shows us all that rock and roll is not dead like Lenny Kravitz sang it was fifteen years ago.