You'd think that all of the success and acclaim that go along with being a metal guitar icon would go to one's head, but not so in the case of Zakk Wylde. Having had the privilege of meeting him at Ozzfest I can attest that he is one of the most down to earth people you'd ever hope to meet. The music he produces with Black Label Society shares the same honesty and lack of pretense.
First up, the man can play. No, Zakk absolutely shreds! While the licks he coaxes from the fretboard may seem simple on the surface, they often belie the command of the instrument he possesses. As they say, a true master makes everything seem so easy, and nothing could be more true when Zakk touches the strings.
So, for any late comers not familiar with Black Label Society , what can you expect from Mafia? Well, this is certainly their most balanced record to date. On past efforts, Zakk's playing often overshadowed all else, but this time around you can tell that both he and the band have grown. After the subdued acoustic tone of last year's aptly titled Hangover Music, Volume VI many fans have been anticipating a return
to heaviness and they will not be disappointed with Mafia . Tracks such as the opener "Fire It Up", "What's In You", and "You Must Be Blind" bristle with fist-in-the-air attitude, while the creepy tones of mid-tempo track "Death March" are a particular highlight. The softer side still shows through in places (most notably in "In This River", a beautiful track dedicated to "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott) but all in all this stuff is as heavy and thick as molasses.
As Zakk is not one to spend months in the studio endlessly tweaking things, this CD has a very loose, raw feel to it, which should translate exceptionally well to their high-energy live shows. Black Label Society isn't some artsy-fartsy band, people. This is straight up, blues-laden metal with a southern rock tinge and, while it doesn't break any new ground, you can tell the band loves what they do. Good stuff, definitely.
Standout tracks : What's In You, Death March, In This River