Lets get one thing clear right now: If you, in anyway, pick this album up and expect it to sound like any of Black Label Society's newer work, you are going to be blasted with extremley heavy-riffs, pounding drums, and a very low-sounding Zakk Wylde. Bottom line, this is different, in a heavy-sense.
This is easily their heaviest album they have ever released. Zakk will continuely throw heavy-paced riffs laced with his signature "pinch-harmonics" that will leave your head spinning. The opener, "All For You", is a perfect example of this entire album. It featurers "crunch" sounding guitar riffs, with, of course, Zakk's now-famous style playing which includes pinch-harmonics about every 10 seconds. To be perfectly honest, every riff that Zakk does after awhile sounds the same. Really, the only break you will get from these riffs comes in during "Rust", which defiently slows things down. After that, "Counterfeit God" is a definite stand out, which showcase slightly-slower, yet still heavy, riffs that perfectly balances out Zakk's use of pinch-harmonics with the rest of the band. "Aint Life Grand" features some different sounding riffs, especially during the intro. Zakk just chugs along for a few brief seconds with the drums, before picking up on his signature-style playing. The chorus even seems a tad bit melodic, which is something you probably wouldn't expect. "Just Killing Time" also, like "Rust" gives you a second to relax, and it even features Zakk on the piano. It's style is very reminiscent to that of "In This River", so fans of that song should feel right at home here. The title track, like "Counterfeit God" features some slower, yet feels heavier than most of the songs. This is probably due to the fact that the bass is a 5-String, and you can make it out so well that it just gives lower, heavier sound to it. Also, Zakk tends to "grind and chug" along in this song, and the chorus again features just a tad bit of melody.
Zakk's vocals on this album will be a definite grower for some people. They're very, very low, almost grunt like, and sound very much different than how he sounds now-a-days. On "Phoney Smiles and Fake Hellos", he puts some effects over his voice, but their so overdone that you can barely even make out what he is saying. However, on tracks "Rust" and "Just Killing Time", Zakk takes a stab at actually singing, and it ain't that bad, but he really only has one range: really low to low. His lyrics, while better than most albums, can get very boring and bland at some points. They can also just be plain stupid. For instance, on the track "13 Years of Grief", Zakk grunts out "Just an ignorant cunt, talkin' such s***, Tryin to act like a man, you little f***in' punk kid." I've got a strong feeling that Zakk was drunk when he wrote those, as they are just pointless.
As with ever BLS album, the solos are the highlight, and Zakk goes overboard in this department. These are easily some of his best work (with BLS). While some, like the solo on "All For You" start off slow before he opens up the floodgates and gradually pours on the insanity, others like the one on "Counterfeit God" just rip onto the scene and grab you by the balls and refuse to let go until Zakk has finished raping your mind. The only real complaint I have here is the solo on "Aint Life Grand", which is incredibly short for a solo by Zakk, only coming in at a mere 20 seconds.
Somewhat repetive riffs, average vocals/lyrics, and a short solo aside, this is a great album, and is an essential for every BLS fan. However, if you are fan of the slower, more ballad-like songs on The Blessed Hellride and Mafia, and didn't really care from the heavier stuff, stay the hell away from this CD, cause you will probably end up cursing the day you bought it. Also, if it seemed like I excluded other members, I pretty much did. This, in essence, is Zakk Wylde's band.
Zakk Wylde - Vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, piano, bass.
Phil Ondich - Drums
All For You
Aint Life Grand
Stronger Than Death
and im in a hurry right now, so if you notice any grammatical errors, let me know and ill come back later and fix them. thanks.