Black Label Society- Catacombs ReviewDate: June 4, 2014
Black Label Society's Catacombs is the latest studio album from their previous release, 'Order of the Black'. The album features former 'Breaking Benjamin' drummer Chad Szeliga and the first studio album without rhythm guitarist Nick Catanese. The band is keeping up their heavy and hard punching sound that was heard in 'Order of the Black'. Just like with any other Black Label Society album, 'Catacombs' features Zakk's soft and mellow side with songs such as 'Angel of Mercy', 'Scars', and 'Shades of Gray'. On these tracks, you can hear the heart filled lyrics Zakk writes which are about loneliness, love and forgiveness and abandonment.
The first single 'In My Dying Time' set the stage for what was to come from the rest of the album. Its heavy riffs and powerful drum sound show that Black Label Society is back with more heavy metal, that nothing has changed and are ready for more action. The tracks that back up this statement are tracks such as 'Fields of Forgiveness', 'Heart of Darkness', and my personal favorite, 'Empty Spaces'. Almost all of the songs carry that iconic pinch harmonic that is Zakk has trademarked and the dark and strong power driven riffs will have your head banging and your neighbors complaining. Any solo that Zakk plays also features his famous "wah" sound effect that just brings more life to the song and flows perfectly with the rhythm and the jam.
In my opinion, the bonus track 'Dark Side of the Sun' should have been featured as a regular track. The songs' up-temp and almost 'Black Sabbath' influenced riffs along with the groovy bass and pumping drum action led it to be one of my favorite tracks on the album. If you are at a crossroads whether or not to spend the extra two or three bucks to get the bonus tracks, get it with the bonus because it will be worth your money.
Overall, the rating I give this album is a 9 out of 10. The production on this album is better than I could have expected and you hear every single instrument very clearly and fully. The guitar is heavier, the solos are crisp and nothing is drowning them out. The bass is definitely groovier and the drums complement everything without taking over the entire sound. Having worked in audio engineering and production, I can say that getting a great drum sound is one of the most challenging things I faced. This album overcame that challenge and did the band justice with the production value. I HIGHLY recommend anyone who is a Black Label Society fan, a Zakk Wylde fan or anyone who is curious about if there is still some good metal played in today's world, to go out to your local music store or best buy and buy yourself this album, you will not be disappointed.
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