(To read part 1, click here)
(To read part 2, click here)
As the 21st century dawned, Zakk Wylde found himself crafting a new band with which to flesh out some of his ideas that were not wholly suitable for his day job in Ozzy Osbourne’s band. Using some of the Southern Rock influences he showcased on previous solo project Pride & Glory, as well as a biker aesthetic, and a base of pure Heavy Metal and Hard rock, this creation would come to be Zakk’s signature even more than his work with Ozzy.
Originally released on May 4th, ’99 (in most of the world, with the Japanese release happening October 28th, ’98), Black Label’s debut album, Sonic Brew, shared many similarities with the Pride & Glory project, but was undoubedtly a much heavier album. Sounding like a mix of Sabbath and Motorhead, with the sonic attack of Pantera, and just a little Lynyrd Skynyrd/Allman Brothers influence, there was little doubt that BLS would be one of the traditional Metal bands to lead the Metal scene into the new millenium. Even though the album performed modestly from a commercial stand-point, the band was already conjuring a cult following of young men looking for a clear successor to Motorhead and the biker bands of old.
Follow-up album Stronger than Death saw Zakk and the band moving in an even heavier and more metallic direction than the debut had set them in. Still being relatively unnoticed commercially, it continued to build the bands cult following with songs like “All for You”, “Counterfeit God” and “Superterrorizer”. The album was faster than the debuts relatively slow, Sabbatherian tempos and was filled with songs built for the road, aswell as Zakk’s trademarked pinch harmonics and soloing. It also saw a slight shift toward the songs having even more groove.
With BLS slowly becoming entrenched into the mind of the Metal community (as well as being one of the very few new entrants in the Traditional Metal sub-genre for quite some time), Zakk was called back into the service of Ozzy Osbourne in 2001 to record Down to Earth. In terms of guitar work, the album could easily be seen as another link in the BLS chain, with Zakk continue the musical trends that had begun on Stronger than Death including an inclination towards groove and melody. Down to Earth also corrected the most prevalent problem that the previous Ozzy album had: only 2 ballads were recorded for the 11 track album versus a ridiculous 4 ballads out of Ozzmosis’ 10 tracks. This, coupled with Zakk’s continued development of his guitar style, made Down to Earth a much stronger record than the one that preceded it in the Ozzy catalog.
(For more info on Zakk Wylde, visit ZakkWylde.com)
(For more info on Ozzy Osbourne, visit Ozzy.com)
(For more info on BLS, visit BlackLabelSociety.com)