Heralded as one of the most ferocious and intense guitar players to have ever picked up the instrument, Zakk Wylde is showing no signs of resting on his laurels in 2021 as he and Black Label Society return with 'Doom Crew Inc.' With the new release taking metal fans by storm, Zakk took some time out to chat with Guitar Interactive Magazine editor Jonathan Graham, and gives some interesting insight into the life and times of the 'Wylde' man of rock and roll.
Black Label Society bandleader Zakk Wylde wields his guitar like a Viking weapon, bashing out thick riffage and squeezing out expressive squeals as if the glory of his Berserker brotherhood depends upon every single note, which of course, it does.
Charismatic beast and consummate showman, Wylde puts his massive heart and earnest soul on display with unbridled, unchained, animalistic passion in Black Label Society—whether it's a crushingly heavy blues-rock barnstormer or a piano-driven ode to a fallen brother. Each Black Label Society album is another opportunity to top the one before it, but like AC/DC or The Rolling Stones, BLS isn't here to reinvent the wheel. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. It's a brand we can trust.
Mighty missives like "Damn the Flood," "In This River," "Stillborn," "My Dying Time," "Queen of Sorrow," and "Blood is Thicker Than Water" have amassed millions of downloads and streams. They are the soundtracks to sweat soaked revelry, jubilant evenings that descend into bewildering mornings, and adrenaline-fueled sports.
To many, Wylde is synonymous with pinch harmonics as much as Chuck Berry dreamt up the duck walk. Zakk's signature Les Paul Bullseye guitar hangs in the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame. His infamous leather bellbottoms hang in the Grammy Museum. His handprints are on Hollywood's Rock Walk of Fame. He's performed the National Anthem at major sporting events. He wrote the 2013 Major League Baseball theme for ESPN. He even momentarily joined Axl Rose, Slash, and Duff in Guns N' Roses. He is a playable character in the Guitar Hero games.
A lifelong disciple of Black Sabbath and the longest-serving guitar-shredder for the Ozzman himself, Wylde co-wrote modern Ozzy Osbourne classics like "No More Tears," "Mama I'm Coming Home," "Road to Nowhere," and "Miracle Man." Together with Ozzy bassist Blasko and drummer Joey Castillo (ex-Queens Of The Stone Age), Wylde pays faithful tribute to the forefathers of metal as frontman for Zakk Sabbath.
One part invading horde and all parts travelling carnival party, Black Label Society traverses the world powered by caffeine and cacophony. BLS engages and inspires audiences everywhere they go, on every radio dial they burn, inviting all comers to join in and participate in their brotherhood and sisterhood of hard rock and vigor.
The latest 12-track album is both a tribute to the band's "first to bleed, last to leave" road crew and a salute to the legion whose support, stretching back to 1998, rivals that of the KISS Army. The stomping, heavy, bluesy, recklessly unhinged hard-rock-metal quartet are part invading horde, and part travelling carnival – summoning caffeine-fueled cacophony on records and the stage.
"If there is one thing that Zakk loves, it is comedy. More specifically, classic comedy (ala Mel Brooks, etc.) We both love it, and I think that's why we work so well together. We both operate on that same wavelength where if he sends me a kernel of an idea and I immediately know where to take it," said director Justin H. Reich." For example, the "End of Days" video idea started with Zakk sending me viral videos of a panda and bear chasing each other through a mall, which I thought were hilarious and gave us a great starting point to create our own original story. It gave us plenty of funny moments and introduced characters normally not seen in a Black Label Society music video – luckily, we were able to pull it off and create something fun and buzzworthy that BLS fans all over will enjoy."
The songs are odes to celebration and mourning, recorded in Zakk's home studio, the Black Vatican. On this album, Zakk trades solos and twin-guitar parts with Dario Lorina, backed by the rumble of longtime bassist John "J.D." DeServio and powerhouse drummer Jeff Fabb.
"We incorporated Father Dario even more into the solos, doubling with me and being more involved in that regard," said frontman Zakk Wylde. "It really, truly is a two-guitar album, more so than ever. A twin guitar band, whether it's the Allman Brothers or Judas Priest, with harmony lines, unison lines, and trading off solos. It stemmed from the live shows, where we'd both go into the crowd and extend songs like 'Fire It Up.'"
Now ten studio albums deep, with solo records, Ozzy shows, and Zakk Sabbath tours all kicking ass simultaneously, Black Label Society rides ever forward, fist held high.
Black Label Society's 'Doom Crew Inc.' is out now via Spinefarm Records.
Black Label Society— Doom Crew Inc. tracklist:
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