Black Label Society
CATACOMBS OF THE BLACK VATICAN
When Zakk Wylde decides to release new music, the metal world definitely stops for a moment and listens. They may not like it all, but they do listen. It's a testament to how unbelievable the man is on guitar; a true legend who stands shoulder to shoulder with the Eddie Van Halen's and Dimebag Darrell's of the world of guitar playing. If Zakk has a habit though, it's to release an album that's dull every once in awhile. It doesn't happen all the time, but it certainly has been known to happen. SHOT TO HELL was pretty lame, and 1919 ETERNAL was a little too full of concept instead of substance. Still, the last two releases, ORDER OF THE BLACK and the acoustic THE SONG REMAINS NOT THE SAME left me thinking that Wylde was back to his creative best, and caused a lot of anticipation for his latest. Unfortunately, CATACOMBS OF THE BLACK VATICAN just doesn't measure up. Slow, plodding and mid-tempo, the word that comes to mind throughout is boring.
RONNIE JAMES DIO: THIS IS YOUR LIFE
As much as I want to take this at face value, it's hard to not at least wonder just how many times Wendy Dio is going to visit the Dio well and mine more material culled from his past work. There's already been multiple live releases, deluxe reissues, an officially sanctioned band playing the music of Dio...and now second tribute collection of music from people other than Dio performing his work (the first being Jorn Lande's DIO release). I'm almost expecting a release of special rare interviews or voice mails to come at this point. Still, it's their business what they put out, and ours to merely judge it. So that said, we now have RONNIE JAMES DIO: THIS IS YOUR LIFE. While it has some real heavyweights performing on it, it's pretty much like every other tribute album you'll get. It's a hodge podge of covers. Some are good. Some aren't. Big surprise, right?
It's not very often that a band that has zero backing behind it sweeps in and just monopolizes my listening time. Generally, bands like Red Reign get 30 seconds as I quickly scan through their music and I'm on to something else that I'm getting pressured to review by a publicist. For Red Reign, I was asked to review this as a favor for my Classic Metal Show co-host Neeley, which quite honestly is the only reason this one ever hit my player in the first place. Good call on his part though, as it's been the only disc in my player for days now. CHASING SHADOWS is a hard rocker full of nasty guitar driven metal that falls somewhere between the heavier Van Halen songs and a bunch of the better modern metal stuff out there today. Red Reign has quickly become a band that I need to know more about.
ALL YOU CAN EAT
They certainly are the joke that just keeps on being retold and being funny, now aren't they? I'm sure there's a lot less people that remember them as Metal Shop, Metal Skool or even way back to the Danger Kitty days, but a whole lot more people have discovered this band since they adopted the name Steel Panther. Having now honed their mock 80s craft as well as their lyrics about fucking stupid chicks, Steel Panther have returned with their most developed, best musical and yet still ridiculously silly lyrical experience to date. In the same fashion they have always chosen, ALL YOU CAN EAT goes to the most outlandish places to talk about getting pussy as it was experienced in the 80s "rock star" scene. Once again, it just works for these guys.
GIVE 'EM HELL
It seems like every time Sebastian Bach releases new music, the first thought that comes to my mind is "this dude comes off like a douchebag ALOT in interviews, but he just kicks ass musically." Amazing how that comes back around. Baz is back, and he's been saying some interesting things in recent interviews. Yet, just ignoring that silliness and digging into his latest, GIVE 'EM HELL, he hits the proverbial musical home run. Easily the best release of his solo career and only topped in my eyes by SLAVE TO THE GRIND from his era of Skid Row, GIVE 'EM HELL is a blistering yet surprisingly melodic hard rock/heavy metal release. Not that I'm surprised since I pretty much loved ANGEL DOWN and KICKING AND SCREAMING, but this is still about five steps beyond those releases. Fans of Bach are sure to be VERY well entertained.