NEW YORK, NY—As Halloween came closer, I had a big decision to make. Do I go to see Black Label Society at The Hard Rock Café in NYC or do I get dressed up and go somewhere with the girlfriend to watch the Yankees in game three of the World Series. For those who know me know that I love Zakk Wylde and his crew, but I am also a huge Yankees fan, so now you can understand my dilemma. Needless to say, I chose to go down to see Black Label Society perform a private and intimate invite-only show at The Hard Rock, while I kept track of the Yanks on my iPhone! How’s that for multi-tasking? Besides, this was one of Zakk’s first shows since recovering from his medical problems back in August, so I was extremely interested to hear how he sounded. Word had it, Zakk was clean and sober for the first time in years, and was ready to reclaim what is rightfully his—The Throne Of Doom!
After much prying, I also discovered that Zakk and his Doom Crew spent the whole week rehearsing right here New Jersey. In fact, they rehearsed all week for this Halloween show at the home of the new reality TV show, Project: American Studio, Aarius Studios in Old Bridge, NJ. Owners Joe and Crystal Cattano said that it’s always great having the boys from Black Label Society in their hallways and that the band is like family to them.
“Zakk Wylde’s Hellfire Halloween Bash,” as it was being called, was put together by Gibson and Epiphone guitars and Monster Cable to celebrate Gibson’s newly designed Zakk Wylde Graveyard Disciple guitar, which Zakk played throughout the powerful 90-minute set. Like I mentioned, this event was a private invite-only one filled with radio contest winners. So, the crowd was small, and the setting was very intimate. Some fans were dressed up in Halloween costumes since it was Halloween, and upon entry fans were handed a Zakk Wylde stick mask, some hoax that Zakk’s management conjured up.
Eddie Trunk and Don Jamison of VH-1’s That Metal Show hosted the event. Right before Black Label Society hit the stage, Eddie and Don held a few special raffle giveaways, which included the special Zakk Wylde Epiphone Grave Disciple guitar, a Dunlop Distortion Pedal, and Monster Cable Headphone set. With giveaways like this, you knew this was to be a special night! BLS slammed into their set opening with the very energetic “Black Mass Reverends” at exactly 9:30 p.m. Zakk looked healthy and happy to be back on that stage.
Bassist and local hero JD DeServio and ex-Crowbar drummer Craig Nunenmacher held down a tight rhythm section on songs like “Destruction Overdrive,” “Bleed For Me,” and “Suicide Messiah” while Zakk and his guitar cohort Nick Catanese doubled up on songs like “Blessed Hellride,” “Fire It Up,” and “Stoned And Drunk.” One of the highlights from the evening was when a Black Label Society piano was wheeled onto the stage and Zakk, JD, and Nick performed scaled down acoustic piano versions of the BLS classics “New Religion” and “Spoke In The Wheel.” Another highlight in the evening was watching a sober Zakk shred into a 15-minute long guitar solo. Normally, I find some guitar solos just long and boring, but this is Zakk f’ing Wylde! Zakk’s solo, which he finished off with his usual “Star Spangled Banner,” was absolutely captivating!
The night ended with my one of my favorite Black Label Society songs, “Stillborn.” Overall a great show! It was great to see Zakk Wylde back on track and more focused than ever. As for my decision, I feel that I made the right one because Black Label Society kicked our ass and the Yankees ended up winning that night! It’s safe to say that the New York and New Jersey chapters of Black Label Society fans went home that night fulfilled and satisfied!