Black Label Society - Shot to Hell Review
by Zane Ewton
It's a safe assumption that, seven albums in, you know exactly what to expect from Black Label Society. Zakk Wylde has developed a mission statement to write the simplest and heaviest riffs, and then scream over them like a Viking destroyer going to war. It's been an effective plan that keeps BLS on Ozzfest stages and with each new release creeping up (of all things) the Billboard charts.
Shot to Hell is another release barely a year removed from its predecessor, Mafia. While all of the signature elements are included, Shot to Hell is a much different record than the boozing and raging of past releases.
There is no surprise that Wylde was profoundly affected by the death of Dimebag Darrell. Mafia was released shortly after, but only "In This River" was a direct response to those events. Shot to Hell is completely impacted by the tragedy. Wylde has never been an overly sensitive fellow but you can hear in his voice and in his songs the hurt, anger and even confusion that has been left behind.
Shot to Hell is moodier than any other BLS album. The range of moods actually makes this the most complete album and one of the more consistent that Wylde has written.
Lead-off track "Concrete Jungle" is classic BLS. Wylde always reserves one of his top songs to kick off the proceedings. "Blacked out World" has a bass intro that is reminiscent to Iron Maiden, and then is carried by a clean Wylde vocal.
"The Last Goodbye" is sentimental and beautiful. For a band that specializes in damage, this is a pleasant and emotional surprise. Another surprise is how the heavy tracks like "Give Yourself to Me" have more swagger than the typical charging militia attack of most BLS tracks.
"Blood is Thicker than Water" borrows from the acoustic vibes on Hangover Music Vol VI. It actually could have fit perfectly on that record.
"Devil's Dime" is a thrashing stomp that hearkens back to No Rest for the Wicked. Maybe it was a track Ozzy didn't care to have on his new record; it fits perfectly on a BLS album though.
BLS fans are a hardcore bunch of guys, and know what they want. With Shot to Hell, Wylde delivers a little something from all of his phases and updates it to the immediate and powerful sound he has developed with BLS.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with consistency. Wylde is able to stay consistently good and even offer a few surprises. Can't wait to see what he'll have for us next year.
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