Review by Marko Syrjälä and Arto Lehtinen
Pictures by Marko Syrjälä
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since Zakk Wylde made a debut visit to Finland as a new axeman of Ozzy Osbourne on the NO REST FOR WICKED tour almost 20 years ago. Since the first visit, the man has become a well-known and adored name on the lips of several young guitar players around the world. His Black Label Society has been climbing the ladder of success during the whole decade. That can be noticed as venues have become bigger and the audience’s attendance or so-called “family” has grown tremendously as well.
The Black Label Society’s European tour kicked off in Helsinki, where Zakk and the crew got on the stage to perform the southern rock-influenced metal at the sold-out House Of Culture, with over 1500 people in the audience. When the curtain was dropped, the whole packed house of culture welcomed Wylde with massive cheering. The show started with “New Religion” from the band’s latest SHOT TO HELL album, followed by two MAFIA tracks: “Forever Down” and “Been A Long Time.” The first three-four songs were hammered down with the rolling massive heavy sounds. However, Zakk didn’t communicate that much with the audience, saving the time for the playing time. Instead, the soloing and showing his guitar playing skills played an obviously important role in the set. Frankly, it was a mandatory part of the whole gig anyway.
Though Zakk is known for having a tough-guy reputation, when he dedicated “In This River” to the late Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell, it was close he didn’t burst into tears when playing the touching parts of the song. To emphasize the remembrance of the late Pantera axeman, a couple of huge pictures were dropped to upholster a few amplifiers. Black Label Society has strong and passionate support amongst the metal, and rock fans as several flags, caps, and patches with the BLS logos on the back were the correct “dress code” at the gig. BLS appeals especially to bikers as there were at least a few bikers having attended the show.
Although the whole band performed and played extremely tightly and well, it was obvious that Zakk Wylde’s charisma is so tremendous huge and dominating on the stage, leaving the rest of the band; drummer Craig Nunemacher, bassist John DeServio and second guitarist Nick Catanese into the shadow to handle their own job on the stage. It can be even said that if some of the other guys had pulled out of the stage, it wouldn’t have been noticed as everyone kept staring at Zakk Wylde’s with eyes wide open. As for the setlist, it consisted of a great selection of BLS tracks, including: “Bleed For Me,” “Fire It Up,” “Suicide Messiah,” “Spoke In The Wheel,” and “Stillborn.” This time they didn’t play anything from STRONGER THAN DEATH and HANGOVER MUSIC VOL 6, whereas all other BLS albums were represented.
As stated, the audience enthusiastically welcomed the BLS doom crew. Still, it kept the same intensive up thru the whole gig, even though the overlong guitar solos literally calmed people a little down. The House of Culture is nothing but a horrible gig venue for any metal or rock concert in general. Frankly, the sounds were more or less horrible and sounded distorted on the floor level. But instead, they sounded rather bearable in the rear of the venue. All right, the Helsinki gig was the first one on the short European tour; therefore, there were obvious things that hadn’t clicked to the right places yet. When the tour has started rolling over Europe, presumably, the whole four-piece will be in the vicious strike on the stage.
Been a Long Time
The Beginning… at last
The Blessed Hellride
Blood Is Thicker Than Water
Spoke In The Wheel (Piano)
In This River (Piano)
Bleed for me
Black Mass Reverends
Fire It Up
MORE PICTURES FROM HELSINKI SHOW !!!