Review || Black label Society - "Grimmest Hits"

Four years after the release of “Catacombs Of The Black Vatican”, Black Label Society returns to action with a brand new opus. The well-oiled machine will be releasing their 10th album, “Grimmest Hits”, on January 19th via eOne Music. The sublime return finds the young virtuoso Dario Lorina (formerly of Lizzy Borden) on guitar and the quad ready to go to war.

After multiple spins, I was able to gather my thoughts and compose this text. Don’t be fooled (like yours truly admittedly was, when I received the promo invitation, but let’s keep that between us); “Grimmest Hits” not a best-of album. Zakk Wylde is a veteran and well-rounded musician who has mastered the ability to compose ostentatious songs, all substance, no fillers. “Grimmest Hits” is a signature BLS album, nothing less than one would expect from this band. It’s unpretentious but bold; not excessive, but definitely not basic either. Consisting of 12 tracks, it is a detailed and artful mix of doomy and stoner accents and of course certain Sabbath-y nuances that the band filters through their trademark soaring metal riffage.
“Grimmest Hits” kicks off with a thunderous spirit, which I feel subsides for a couple of tracks, and manifests anew on the second half of the album. I caught myself more fascinated from the fifth song (and yes, I know that’s a ballad) and how the sound develops from that point on. That aside, the material is overall very consistent and flows almost seamlessly. The tracks that I believe stand out the most are “Room Of Nightmares” and “Illusions Of Peace”, with their angst-ridden character and vigorous instrumentation. I find the contrast between those rapacious songs and the power ballads, that make up about a third of the album, very appealing. Speaking of ballads, one thing I’ve always acknowledged when it came to Wylde’s more mellow songwriting is that he can make even the toughest biker dude crack with his emotional, spine-chilling interpretations –both musically and vocally. The brightest example to that is no other than “The Day Heaven Had Gone Away”, in all its six-minute glory, building a truly beautiful momentum. Similarly, “The Only Words” has a melancholic, almost retro, vibe that playfully winks at mid-80s-early-90’s ballads.

To be very frank, “Grimmest Hits” is still growing on me. The band doesn’t reinvent the wheel but chooses to play safe within the boundaries they have themselves established for their sound. This, of course, doesn’t mean in any way that they rest stagnant; quite the contrary actually. Black Label Society and their skilled mainman have a unique sound and an enormous ability to manipulate it in any way they desire, without releasing the same album over and over -and "Grimmest Hits" is no exception. For any Black Label Society fan, this album will be in your playlist for the foreseeable future, trust me on that.
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