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Black Label Society
The Blessed Hellride
May 2003
Released: 2003, Spitfire Records
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: EvilG

Zakk is back with THE BLESSED HELLRIDE and I would venture to say that this is perhaps the best I’ve heard from Zakk since his debut with Ozzy on NO REST FOR THE WICKED. Time will tell of course as the album sinks in over the coming months and years. One thing is for certain - this is easily one of his best sounding albums in terms of the production and mix. I’ve always loved Zakk’s playing with Ozzy, my favorite being his playing on the aforementioned Ozzy album NO REST FOR THE WICKED. Zakk’s vocals always remind me of a mixture of Monster Magnet meets Ozzy underneath his own style and voice. Others compare his vocal style to the Allman bros. But I admind I have never really listened to them before since I’ve prefer metal.

The poorly titled “Stoned And Drunk” opens up this hellride and from the get go this hints at the greatness of the rest of the album. The guitar sound is thick and thankfully not too down-tuned. The song is not slow, boring, and all sludgy, but bright, speedy and in your face. The solo in this one rips, again proving that Zakk is one of the best players in metal today. “Doomsday Jesus” has Zakk sounding a little like a more aggressive and lower octave version of Ozzy. Zakk also sounds a little like Ozzy on the track “Final Solution”. The drums on “Doomsday Jesus” sound very cool and fit over the song’s main riff perfectly making for one of the heavier tracks on the album. “Stillborn” is a killer song that features some backing vocals from Ozzy himself. Ozzy sounds great on this song (well since when hasn’t he sounded awesome eh?). This is the first single from the album and there is already a video out for it directed by Rob Zombie. The opening three tracks on this CD are the three that stand out together. If the pace and quality of the rest of the album would of stood up to the first three, this might have been a 5/5 in my books. That is not to say the album doesn’t have other good songs. But some less interesting moments for me include “Suffering Overdue” which has an overly repetitive doomish downtuned Sabbath riff. This song doesn’t do a lot for me. The repetitive riff and then the slow part in the middle with Zakk singing through an effect with a nasal sounding voice turned me off. The solo is the only place on the song that grabbed my attention. “The Blessed Hellride” is an acoustic track that sounds to me like it could of fit on an Alice In Chains album. “The Blessed Hellride” is a cool name for a song, and for an album, but you’d think that a title track would be a little livelier than this. Not a big deal though…. The closing track “Dead Meadow” stands out due to its musical differences from the rest of the album. It has Zakk playing piano and and has a clean guitar bluesy guitar solo. This sounds like something that could fit with Zakk’s Pride & Glory material.

THE BLESSED HELLRIDE album cover is quite plain proving that you can’t judge a book by the cover. It is unfortunate that the cover wasn’t something a little more suitable. Sprinkled throughout the CD booklet are tattoo-like art pieces for each song that look damn cool. Zakk can stand on his own as he’s proven time and time again. THE BLESSED HELLRIDE is his best non-Ozzy work to date.
Track Listing

1. Stoned & Drunk
2. Doomsday Jesus
3. Stillborn
4. Suffering Overdue
5. The Blessed Hellride
6. Funeral Bell
7. Final Solution
8. Destruction Overdrive
9. Blackend Waters
10. We Live No More
11. Dead Meadow


Zakk Wylde - vocals / guitar
Nick Catanese - guitar
S.O.B. - bass
Criag Nunenmacher - drums

Next review: » Black Label Society - The Blessed Hellride
Previous review: » Black Label Society - Stronger Than Death

Black Label Society
The Blessed Hellride
May 2003
Released: 2003, Spitfire Records
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Night of the Realm

Hell Yeah! Zakk Wylde and Co. return with their newest album of beer-swilling, riff-heavy, pissed-off rock metal. I’ll admit that I’ve found the previous Black Label offerings to be inconsistent at best, suffering from a general lack of focus and ideas, but THE BLESSED HELLRIDE smokes from beginning to end.

“Stoned and Drunk” breaks the 45-minute Hellride wide open with it’s dirty melody, cutting groove, and the raw, filthy vocal delivery by Zakk Wylde. This track is 100% pure metal, and certainly ranks as the best song that I have heard so far this year. It is also the perfect track to lead off the album as it is fairly typical of the sound and quality of what is to come. Unfortunately, the worst track of the album follows directly after the best. “Doomsday Jesus” is a shitty track overall, plagued by the same Pantera-isms that slagged previous BLS works. C’mon Zakk, the proto-simians of Pantera do a much better job of taking that sound and sucking; leave it to professionals. Thankfully, “Doomsday Jesus” is the exception on the album, and the ride ahead is all good quality.

“Stillborn” is the radio single of the album, and features a gratuitous appearance by Ozzy Osbourne on vocals. This track has a good groove to it, with almost an Alice in Chains feel in a few places, and while Ozzy’s vocals add nothing to the track, they do not detract, either. Perhaps this is because Zakk’s vocals throughout the album sound even more like Ozzy than ever. “Suffering Overdue” is a track of pure sludge and doom, walking the thin edge over the Pantera side of things. The album’s title track is quite an interesting number, dropping the usual heavy riffs for a laid-back, bluesy, acoustic number that can only be described as most hella cool. It’s a stark contrast to the rest of the album thus far, but Zakk pulls it off flawlessly. “Funeral Bell” is the complete opposite, wasting no time as it opens with an angry, kick-you-in-the-teeth chugging riff.. This one’s another of my favourites. If you’re looking for an old Black Sabbath-inspired trick, check out the doomy “Final Solution.” Zakk pulls off an Ozzy impression better than Ozzy himself could do nowadays. “Destruction Overdrive” reminds me quite a bit of “Funeral Bell” with Zakk’s trademark tight, intense riffs laid down in force. I feel that this track also features Zakk’s strongest vocal performance on the album. The last three tracks mellow a bit while Zakk kicks up the blues before the album closes with “Dead Meadow.” Driven by piano, this one’s even stranger and more out of place than the title track. I guess it works, as it is a completely different ending to the album.

There has never been any occasion to question Zakk’s technical skill or flair for powerful riffs, but Zakk Wylde really honed his songwriting skills for THE BLESSED HELLRIDE. Here, we see a greater focus and cohesion in style. The true beauty of this album is its genuine nature. This is no glossy, over-produced phony album, just pure, gritty, no bullshit metal. THE BLESSED HELLRIDE ought to come with a warning sticker plastered on the front: WARNING: This album meant to be enjoyed with mass quantities of cold beer and char-grilled red meat.

It just fits that way.
Track Listing

1.Stoned and Drunk
2.Doomsday Jesus
4.Suffering Overdue
5.The Blessed Hellride
6.Funeral Bell
7.Final Solution
8.Destruction Overdrive
9.Blackened Waters
10.We Live No More
11.Dead Meadow


Zakk Wylde - vocals, guitar, bass
Craig Nunenmacher - drums

Next review: » Black Label Society - The European Invasion: Doom Troopin' Live (DVD)
Previous review: » Black Label Society - Stronger Than Death

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