The PR blurb attached to this album promo says “This is not a ‘Best of…’ record!! It is a new studio album”, quite prominently at the top of the email. It’s a good job, as we were getting ready to write a five minute review on Black Label Society’s greatest hits. Easy peasy, that is.
Alas, as we’ve had pointed out to us and we’ve pointed out to you. It’s a brand new studio album.
You probably knew that already, though.
It is brand new studio album No. 10 from Zakk and his denim kutte crew, and it’s just what you want from BLS. In fact, there may not be a great deal of difference in reviewing those aforementioned greatest hits and this brand new BLS album.
Progressive is not a word in Zakk Wylde’s vocabulary, and anyone inclined towards a new BLS album is not looking for any new ground to be trodden here with ‘Grimmest Hits’.
Chugging riffs, squealing pinch harmonics, that signature axe-tone and Zakk’s Ozzy-stained vocals are all present and correct. Crack a beer, we’re ready for the off…
You’d have to be a bit finicky to separate out the good BLS studio releases from the lesser ones; they all have that hell raising biker stomp to them. However, last time out ‘Catacombs…’ struggled to live up to ‘Order of the Black’ and perhaps the couple of releases before that too.
But yeah, that might be a bit finicky of us!
Anyway, this one certainly hits the spot. ‘Trampled Down Below’ and ‘Room of Nightmares’ get the beer flowing rapidly with burly riffs and fist pumping chorus lines. The latter of those two certainly sounds better without the birthday party themed video to go with it too…
There’s the typical 60:40 (ish) mix of thunderous belters and ballads that we’ve become accustomed to from Zakk and co.while the album chops and changes in pace enough to keep you guessing.
Highlights? Well, call us old-fashioned, but what we want from one of the greatest heavy metal guitarists of all time is lots of face melting and screaming guitar work! Obviously. You don’t have to wait long for that either; the second half of the opening track see’s Zakk disappear into a whirlwind of howling guitars. There’s plenty more on offer later on into the album too, as Zakk gives the old fretboard some punishment.
It goes without saying that ‘Grimmest Hits’ is crammed full of rollicking riffs, while the mellower stuff just seems to get better with every new release. ‘Grimmest Hits’ doesn’t immediately smack you with a big hit single in the vein of ‘Stillborn’ or ‘Concrete Jungle’ but it’s a comprehensive collection of the best bits of BLS. This is a very solid album from start to finish, and a grand old excuse for the band to hit the road in 2018.
Hopefully that’ll be for more than just a London date for those of us stuck up here in the hills…
It looks like Zakk is busier than ever at the moment with BLS, Ozzy and Zakk Sabbath all very much active. We can’t wait to see him stood on his podium beating his chest and smashing out some of these ‘Grimmest…’ tunes somewhere soon!
‘Grimmest Hits’ is out on 19th Jan via Spinefarm Records.
Catch Black Label Society on tour in 2018: