Rating: 7 out of 10
Black Label Society’s latest release Grimmest Hits continues more in the vein of their last release Catacombs of the Black Vatican and less like the brilliant and manic 2010 masterpiece Order of the Black. While to the casual ear, the sound may seem the same, the trained BLS ear will notice the difference. Zakk Wylde’s voice is toned down, and while the lead work continues to be excellent, the songs have a down trodden vibe. This is where the album slightly misses the mark Don’t get me wrong; Grimmest Hits is very good, and worth buying, it just isn’t great as the Black Label Society from 1998 to 2010.
A prime example is “Seasons of Falter’ which has a great vibe, and amazing guitar yet has a slower pace, lower tuning, and tired sounding vocals. The result is very good as opposed to great. “The Betrayal” speeds up but has too much sludge. The highlight of the album is “Room of Nightmares,” which was released a full month before the rest of the album. While the song is great, it short changes the listening experience by creating a sense of expectation, resulting in a lackluster listening experience. Maybe this is the result of the paradigm shift in the music industry, but I would prefer for the whole album to be released as one entity. “A Love Unreal” and the very Sabbath-esque “Disbelief” continue the pattern of very good, slow paced heavy riffs. “The Day That Heaven Had Gone Away” is a southern blues-based song that falls short despite some blistering lead guitar work. “Illusions of Peace” is another highlight, due to the fact it is slightly more up-tempo and unique.
Grimmest Hits is not a bad effort, it’s just not great, and Zakk Wylde is capable of greatness. It is still a must purchase for any BLS fan, and a recommended listen for metal fans as long as they know there are a lot better BLS releases out there.
This album review was written by Joe Becht. Follow him on Twitter @JoeBecht
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