Black Label Society
Grimmest Hits


3.0
good

Review

by Simon.K CONTRIBUTOR (170 Reviews)
January 20th, 2018 | 29 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A contrast of white-knuckled excitement and tedium.

For most people, Zakk Wylde needs no introduction. At this point he’s reached the same level of recognisability a McDonalds logo would have on you if you were into heavy music as much as eating burgers. A stark contrast to his introduction in the music world, playing for Ozzy Osbourne as the skinny, handsome guitar player with long blonde hair. After spending a sum of time with Ozzy, Zakk eventually went off to start his own band in the form of Black Label Society; donning the iconic biker image of leather vests, skulls and bandanas, with an impressive beard and Thor sized arms to back it up. Matching the aesthetic was a sonic palate of several influences: blending crusty southern-riffs and Pantera grooves, with the kind of claustrophobic energy associated with 90’s alt-rock albums. Black Label Society offered it all: from the cool look, to the technical proficiency and grinding grooves embedded in songs, as a result it didn’t take long for Zakk and co. to cut a name out for themselves.

Just shy of 20 years under the moniker, Grimmest Hits – not to be confused with being a “Best-of” record, a mistake I and many others made – is an album that delivers exactly what you’d expect a Black Label Society LP to do. “Trampled Down Below,” the opening track, welcomes you to a beautiful string arrangement before quickly introducing a fat, punchy bass as it pins its Rage Against the Machine style groove to the floor so the rest of the band can slam it into gear, while Zakk delivers a vocal performance of benign elongated, Alice in Chains-type croons over the pummelling riffs and cheeky licks. And this template is the mainstay of the entire record. The production choice is a thundering bass which sits predominantly throughout the mix, a decision I feel works in the album’s favour as it leaves a bucket load of room for tracks like “A Love Unreal” and “Room of Nightmares” to breath, creating a weighty gravity for when the guitar solos get introduced. Grimmest Hits mainstay is mid-tempo tunes, and rarely does it shift past that speed, apart from when it gets to the album breathing ballads of “The Only Words,” “The Day That Heaven Had Gone Away” and “Nothing Left to Say,” which offer up a nice break and moment of respite from the wailing solos and fist-pumping rhythm section.

However, I can’t shake the niggles which plague this album. The record feels like it was dug up and found inside a time capsule; even if it will please BLS fans, it’s a little too formulaic and predictable for my liking. Zakk’s smooth vocals and, at times, excellent melodies adequately do the job, but they have a tendency to remind you he played with Ozzy; frequently ripping him off during the high-octane numbers as he does the aggressive roars to keep up with the theme of the music. Equally, lending a little too much influence when he shifts to the more melancholic style, sounding like he should be in an Alice in Chain’s cover band than his own. Don’t get me wrong, his vocals are great on this, but the only time he sounds natural is on the ballad tracks where he doesn’t have to accommodate a particular mood. Other problems stem from the unwavering mid-tempo, a cause and effect that results in the decent riffs becoming a little repetitive by the time you get to the halfway mark of this thing. The open swing from the rhythm section is a welcoming positive and the solos are always interesting to hear, but the album’s lack of variety and derivative nature makes the overall experience feel like a run-of-the-mill grunge, alt-rock album from the 90s. Still, this is yet another solid offering from the band, and if you’re a fan of Zakk and his band there’s a lot to be enjoyed here.

Good.

EDITION: DIGITAL//C̶D̶//V̶I̶N̶Y̶L̶

PACKAGING: N/A

SPECIAL EDITION: N/A



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user ratings (27)
Chart.
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
PsychicChris (3.5)
It’s nice to see Grimmest Hits tap a little deeper into Black Label Society’s influences, but it...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Aerisavion
January 20th 2018


1477 Comments


That introductory sentence is goddamn beautiful.

Great review as always.

Digging: Brand New - Science Fiction

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
January 20th 2018


13888 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Haha cheers aeri

Dewinged
January 20th 2018


8340 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I have no idea who is that McDonalds u talk about Gonzo but I know Zakk the man.



So this is not a best of!? Damn, it fooled me.



Great review Doc.

Digging: Erdve - Vaitojimas

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
January 20th 2018


13888 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I know! Really poor choice of title if you ask me. Literally only found out it wasn't a best of yesterday (the day it came out lol)

Mythodea
January 20th 2018


4214 Comments


X person, idea, theme needs no introduction... *proceeds by introducing said person, idea, theme*



Kalopsia
January 24th 2018


2527 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

loves me some Zakk and BLS, but this is bad.

Kalopsia
January 24th 2018


2527 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

sad to think this is the best he could come up with in 4 years time.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
January 24th 2018


7745 Comments


Well written review, Zakk has always been too attached to Ozzy.

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
January 24th 2018


13888 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Cheers voivod. Yeah I have to say, it shows haha

Doctuses
January 24th 2018


310 Comments


this guy loves pentatonic and chromatic chickin pickin a little too much these days, and these past twenty years.

Digging: Artificial Brain - Infrared Horizon

Kalopsia
January 24th 2018


2527 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

zakk stereotype that doesn't really apply to his past couple albums, including this one.

TheMrAlexK
January 24th 2018


9391 Comments


*pinch hamronic*

Idk if I wanna check this

*pinch harmonic*

Digging: JPEGMAFIA - Veteran

TheMrAlexK
January 24th 2018


9391 Comments


*pinch harmonic*

Idk if I wanna check this

*pinch harmonic*

bloc
January 24th 2018


47165 Comments


[pinch harmonic]This prolly has lots of pentatonics[/pinch harmonic]

Digging: The Presets - Apocalypso

Doctuses
January 26th 2018


310 Comments




Doctuses
January 27th 2018


310 Comments


zakk stereotype that doesn't really apply to his past couple albums, including this one."

I don't give a shit about his last couple albums bitch, go follow him on facebook its a treat, the guy can't not manicly fidget around the fretboard with supposedly complex music theory stuff. its cringe inducing. '

and you'd have my jaw agape if you told me he still doesn't do ten minute chickin pickin solos by himself in every concert

TheMrAlexK
January 27th 2018


9391 Comments


Zakk's pre-Blessed Hellride vocals are the shit fr

KjSwantko
January 31st 2018


10763 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Bummer....always been a big Zakk fan but there is no soul to these songs. Only 3-4 were pretty good, and most were the same generic riffs we've heard from him a million times. No desire to listen through a second time.

Dewinged
February 12th 2018


8340 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Listening now and it's actually not the disaster I thought it would be. Pretty decent, 4 songs in.

chug73
February 16th 2018


3310 Comments


The solo on the opening track is pretty cool.

The review is dead on in regards to the Alice in Chains references. Sounds like this is sort of stuck in the 90's



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