Black Label Society returns to Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg with Obituary and Prong on Nov. 6
From a press release:
Forced to cut their North American tour short last year due to the pandemic, Black Label Society is getting back on the road this fall and “Doom Trooping Over North America” with fellow heavy metal bands Obituary and Prong.
The tour stops at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg on Saturday, Nov. 6. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the concert starts at 7:30 p.m.
Ozzy Osbourne axeman Zakk Wylde released “Sonic Brew,” his first album with his band Black Label Society, in 1999. In 2019, he marked that milestone with “Sonic Brew – 20th Anniversary Blend 5.99 – 5.19,” which is nothing like the infamously awful failed experiment of New Coke. This is the original formula, like Coke Classic, but spiked with Viagra, the Captain America super soldier serum, and triple the caffeine.
It’s less of a floor to ceiling remodel than it is a fresh coat of paint in preparation for another crazy house party. Wylde and crew were careful not to mess with the magic captured on the long-lost two-inch tape. Instead, they blessed the master with some note-for-note enhancement, spicing up “Sonic Brew” with a perfected recipe.
“I don’t want to hear ‘Led Zeppelin II’ redone, with the band just replaying the whole record,” noted the charismatic frontman and gregarious guitar icon. “The performances and everything is a snapshot in time. We just added on top of what was already there on the original recordings. It’s like we went in and did surgery on this thing. We took the original CD master and added things that made it stronger.”
Two decades on from the band’s inception, Black Label Society soared to No. 4 on the Billboard Current Albums chart with their 10th studio album, “Grimmest Hits,” in 2018. It was the third consecutive Top 5 debut for BLS, right behind “Catacombs of the Black Vatican” (2014) and “Order of the Black” (2010). Not a greatest hits record or compilation, “Grimmest Hits” opened at No. 1 on both the Hard Music Albums and Independent Albums charts.
Equal parts adrenalized fury and heartfelt emotion, the BLS songbook plays a unique role in the lives of the band’s fans. The group cranks out anthems to turn up in revelry and tragedy, songs with which to celebrate and songs with which to mourn.
Mighty missives like “Stillborn,” “Bleed for Me,” “Funeral Bell,” “In This River,” “Concrete Jungle,” “Parade of the Dead,” “My Dying Time,” and “Room of Nightmares” have amassed millions of downloads, streams, and video views. They are the soundtracks to jubilant evenings that descend into bewildering mornings. While members of esteemed rock and metal institutions like Alice in Chains, Metallica, Type O Negative, Clutch, Danzig, and Megadeth have passed through the band’s ranks, Black Label Society has consistently been defined by Wylde’s unmistakable voice and signature guitar sound and the steady rumble of bassist John DeServio. Bluesy guitarist Dario Lorina and powerhouse drummer Jeff Fabb joined Wylde and DeServio in the BLS crusade back in 2013 and 2012, respectively.
An energized beast and consummate showman, the frontman bears his heart and soul with unchained passion, in both crushingly heavy blues rock barnstormers and acoustic or piano-driven laments alike. The band is vigilant keepers of the flame. Zakk’s signature Les Paul Bullseye guitar hangs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, his infamous leather bell bottoms are in Los Angeles’ Grammy Museum, and his handprints are on Hollywood’s RockWalk. He wrote the 2013 Major League Baseball theme for ESPN. He’s graced the cover of every guitar mag.
A lifelong disciple of Black Sabbath and the longest-serving guitar shredder for the Ozzman himself, Wylde co-wrote modern Ozzy Osbourne classics like “No More Tears,” “Mama, I’m Coming Home,” “Road to Nowhere,” and “Miracle Man.” Together with Ozzy bassist Blasko and ex-Queens of the Stone Age drummer Joey Castillo, Wylde pays faithful tribute to the forefathers of metal as frontman for Zakk Sabbath.
Wylde, who was still in his teens when he got his demo tape into Osbourne’s hands, was part of “No More Tears” (the biggest-selling album of the legendary singer’s solo career), the double-platinum “Ozzmosis,” and a Best Metal Performance Grammy win.
A one-off record with Pride & Glory in 1994 was followed by Wylde’s first solo album, “Book of Shadows” (1996). “Sonic Brew” introduced Black Label Society to the world, igniting a molten momentum that barely slowed for the arrival of “Book of Shadows II” (2016), 20 years after its predecessor. It’s beautifully serendipitous that “Sonic Brew – 20th Anniversary Blend 5.99 – 5.19” now marks a similar landmark anniversary.
“After the ‘Book of Shadows’ record had its run, I was just like, ‘Well, what am I going to do?’” Wylde remembered. “I wasn’t playing with Oz at the time. I was playing with Guns N’ Roses, but that was in limbo. I had all of these riffs, so I was just like, ‘I’ll sing it myself!’ [Ex-drummer] Phil [Ondich] and I had a blast making ‘Sonic Brew.’ It was more rock than when I did the Pride & Glory thing, but there are tinges of that stuff in there with the riffs, and then there’s always been mellow stuff on the records.”
The Black Label Society studio discography is like an instruction manual on how to expertly craft heartfelt, no-holds-barred, heavy metal-infused American hard rock. “Sonic Brew” (1999), “Stronger Than Death” (2000), “1919 Eternal” (2002), “The Blessed Hellride” (2003), “Hangover Music Vol. VI” (2004), “Mafia” (2005), “Shot to Hell” (2006), “Order of the Black” (2010), “Catacombs of the Black Vatican” (2014), and “Grimmest Hits” (2018) should be required listening for all aspiring blues-based rock musicians.
“Sonic Brew was the beginning. I can’t believe it’s been 20 years,” Wylde marveled.
See NEPA Scene’s photos of Black Label Society performing with Corrosion of Conformity and Red Fang at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia in 2018 here.
This post was compiled by the staff of NEPA Scene.