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Black Label Society | 1919 Eternal | review | rock | Lollipop

Black Label Society

1919 Eternal (Spitfire)
by Brian Varney

Third full-length by this Zakk Wylde-led beer-guzzling machine in three years, 1919 Eternal find Black Label Society continuing their fusion of hard-drinking Southern rock and heavy metal. Though this CD is texturally a metal one (especially Zakk's half-growled vocals and his arsenal of guitar squeals and peals), the elements of the classic Southern rock are present for nearly every second of the proceedings. Zakk didn't name his publishing company "Bellbottoms and Beer Music" for nothing, y'know.

I've heard the last studio release and the live album and had problems with both. Though both releases certainly had their selling points, I have a hard time with Zakk's vocals, and though I don't find them quite so grating on this release, I still think BLS would be a much better band with a good singer. I dunno, maybe the growling thing is part of the metal vibe Zakk's going for, but it just seems that someone with an impressive set of pipes singing songs like "Life, Birth, Blood, Doom" would make this band unstoppable.

As I said before, his vocals are better on 1919 Eternal than on previous efforts - he does an especially impressive job on the slower numbers like "Bridge to Cross," the kind of song that the words "power ballad" were meant to describe (rather than the cheeseball '80s hair-metal crap that it usually denotes). My personal favorite BLS numbers are the slow ones, like the afore-mentioned "Bridge to Cross" and the stuff on the "acoustic" bonus disc that came with the live album. I like Zakk's vocals better at this tempo and volume and these are the places where his considerable songwriting talents are best allowed to shine. Or maybe I'm just a pussy who hates metal but doesn't realize it. If BLS were to do an entire album's worth of stuff at this tempo or else hire another singer to handle the faster stuff, I have a feeling I'd really be into this band. However, as it stands now, I'll have to remain a bystander.
(22 W. 38th Street, 7th Fl. New York, NY 10018)

 


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