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Black Label Society – Mafia

Label: Artemis Records
Format: CD
Released: 2005
Reviewed By: Rich Catino

Even though Zakk Wylde is Ozzy Osbourne’s right hand axe man, he does not go without flaws, which is why I don’t understand why so many people think Black Label Society is the cats meow and Zakk can do no wrong. Granted, he can play the guitar and write killer riffs and solos, I am no dummy I know talent when I hear it. He does have his own style and sound, and as a live performer he gets everything note for note, the guitar is basically an extension of his body. I really enjoy the riffs and solos he writes but I rarely find memorable chorus’ amidst his southern swagger to his vocal delivery and biker beer fueled lyrics. He also needs to get a singer, I think another voice would bring out his arrangements better. Zakk sounds like Scott Weiland of Velvet Revolver at times. I find his voice flat, definitely different, but blasé. Overrated to an extent Black Label Society is I would say.

 

Zakk has grown as a song writer and has gotten more creative with his choice of words, less beer, booze and babes on "Mafia". 'Forever Down', 'You Must Be Blind' and 'Say What You Will' are solid pounding rompers, I like when he does these mid paced headbangers (see I do like some of his songs). Still I find the chorus flat but the guitar solos rip and the drums pound.

'In this River' is a ballad dedicated to his deceased friend Dimebag Darrel of Pantera, a side of Zakk’s voice I enjoy done with a piano accompaniment. See people, its ok to write a ballad so stop giving the more melodic bands a hard time, if Zakk can do it and it is looked at as quality, then others can too.

"Mafia" also features great artwork with a gun toting skeleton in a pin strip suit and the lyrics sheet set up like a newspaper called the BLS Mafia Times.

Overall this is his best work to date, songwriter wise and production also. I’m on the fence with Black Label, some of this stuff is cool, I do enjoy them better live.

 
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