Black Label Society
Stronger Than Death
Released: 2000, Spitfire Records
Zakk Wylde's calls his second post-Ozzy effort Stronger Than Death, but it might more aptly be titled Heavier Than Hell! Even Wylde himself has noted that while Black Label Society's first disk, "Pride and Glory," is "more beer music," this one is "f**kin' hard alcohol." I'll have a double shot of Old Charter to that one, Zakk!
Seriously, this CD shows that Wylde, strong-minded, ultra-alpha male axeslinger that he is, has no intention, musically speaking, of taking any prisoners now or in the foreseeable future. You'll find no compromises or lullabies here, not even in the slower, ballad-like numbers such as "Just Killing Time" and "Rust." These tunes, like sledgehammer numbers "All For You," "Phony Smiles," and "Counterfeit God" are awash in Wylde's ballsy, experimental streak with sounds, riffs, and production. Indeed, he takes "black and blue" metal to new heights of industrial doom. Still, there is an introspective streak here lyrically-our man Zakk has some insightful-and cutting-social commentary to make on tunes like "13 Years of Grief" and "Ain't Life Grand." And, though the vocals are often deliberately muffled in dirge-like distortion, there is a discernable gritty blues feel in his roar that underscores the blistering melancholy reverberating throughout the entire disk.
With Stronger Than Death you can expect the "burning black rubber" six-string histrionics that Wylde brought to his work with Ozzy on No More Tears and No Rest For The Wicked, but with a considerable amount of kerosene added to the recipe. However, stand warned that this disk is brewed the for the seasoned, hard core connoisseurs amongst you. Faint of heart rookies might best stick with their Virgin Marys!