MANHATTAN, NY—Zakk Wylde was 19 years old when he joined Ozzy Osbourne’s band as lead guitarist and co-writer. He performed with Osbourne for nearly 20 years. Wylde then formed Pride & Glory in the early 1990s, playing a mixture of bluesy Southern rock with heavy metal; the band recorded one album and then disbanded in December 1994. Wylde subsequently released an acoustic solo album in 1996. He finally found his niche when he formed Black Label Society in 1998. Black Label Society have released 10 studio albums, two live albums, two compilation albums, one EP, and three video albums; the most recent studio album, Catacombs Of The Black Vatican, was released on April 8, 2014. The group has been through numerous lineup changes, but the present lineup consists of Wylde on vocals, lead guitar and piano, Dario Lorina on rhythm guitar, John DeServio on bass and Jeff Fabb on drums.
Black Label Society are currently headlining the Revolver Golden Gods tour, which also features Down, Devil You Know and Butcher Babies. When the hanging Black Label Society curtain dropped to the apron of the stage at 10:30 p.m., the bearded, imposing Wylde came front and center, standing on a platform before a wall of Marshall amplifiers, whipping his head and swinging his mop of hair while playing furious guitar licks. Wylde looked to the audience and moved to a mic stand decorated with a wooden cross, a rosary, a thick chain and several skulls. Wylde sang a scorching “My Dying Time,” the first single from the new album. Wylde’s thick, leathery and bluesy drawl proved to be a refreshing alternative to the current trend of nu-metal screamers. The titles of the next few songs, “Godspeed Hell Bound,” “Destruction Overdrive,” “Heart Of Darkness,” “Overlord” and “Damn The Flood,” spelled out the mindset and the direction of the band’s 90-minute performance—Black Label Society were proudly grounded in heavy metal culture. The long-haired Wylde fit the image, wearing denim, leather, studs and chains.
The spotlight throughout the concert was on Wylde’s guitar wizardry, with the other three members of the band mostly supporting backup. Midway through the show, Wylde tore into a very extended guitar solo, and we mean solo—no one else was on stage for the entire composition. During the solo, he compiled back-to-back every virtuoso guitar trick that he had scattered in smaller bursts elsewhere in the performance, from chicken picking to double-handed tapping to feedback to harmonics. Wylde barely spoke to the audience between songs, instead bashing through 15 ripping songs and playing more lead guitar than most ears can handle.
Toward the latter end of the concert, a piano was rolled out and Wylde showed that he was an accomplished pianist as well on “In This River.” He then retrieved a double-necked guitar and put the pedal to the metal with “The Blessed Hellride,” followed by “Suicide Messiah” with the audience singing the chorus, “Concrete Jungle” and “Stillborn.” Completing a night full of highlights, the show closed with ex-Pantera and Down vocalist Philip Anselmo joining Black Label Society on stage to sing a cover of the Pantera’s “I’m Broken.” Metal music has been splintering into many subgenres over the past two decades, but Zakk Wylde and Black Metal Society in concert were the epitome of classic lead guitar-centered heavy metal rock.
Visit Black Label Society at blacklabelsociety.com.