Black Label Society - Hangover Music Vol. VI
Spitfire Records
Hard Rock Ballads
15 songs (66.53)
Release year: 2004
Black Label Society, Spitfire Records
Reviewed by Aleksie
Album of the month
One of the most magnificent guitarists on the planet and one of the hardest working men in the metal business is here again with some more Black Labeled comfort. After several records of mostly brutal, very powerful riffing and pure testosterone with Stronger Than Death and The Blessed Hellride as the brightest gemstones, Zakk Wylde returns to the stylings of his Book Of Shadows solo record. For everyone wishing for another riff machine of an album, you wont find it here. Instead, you will find some of the best ballads written within this millenium in the metal scene.

Acoustic guitars and the piano are the main players here, with Wylde breaking out the electric axes for some sparse background riffs and of course, his trademark blinding solos which are found a plenty among the slow jamming. The opening trio Crazy Or High - Queen Of Sorrow - Steppin Stone displays a great mix of acoustic and electric guitar magic along with Wyldes unmistakable baritone. I have seen many reviewers critisize Wyldes singing on the album and I can understand that. His raspy, sometimes stretching high notes can be a bit tough on the ears, but I find these parts especially awesome, along with his trademark deep and gravely bellowing. Bar Matthew Barlow and Freddie Mercury, Ive never heard a man have such uniquely-styled charisma in his voice. True, his range is nowhere near the likes of Halford or Sammet, but his voice has got balls of steel, and a lot of charm and personality. Not many otherwise great singers can pull that off. That’s why Wylde is one of my favourite singers too. Not that well ranged, but he has more personality and touch than all of the Cans´ and Liones out there put together in a bunch.

Takillya (Estyabon) is a short blast of acoustic soloing, followed by the nicely U2-resembling Wont Find It Here. The Alice In Chains-stylings of House Of Doom, the distorted power chords and Zakks amazing solo make for a great and heavy song, that is arguably the best here among many. Damage Is Done displays Zakks great mix of piano balladering with acoustics and electrics. Zakks AIC-love is again brought up in the form of Layne - another great tune from the heavier side of the album - a tribute to the bands departed front man Layne Stayley. Woman Don’t Cry is a piano-based song that has a more soft-sounding Wylde singing more mellow in an almost Elton John-like voice and throws a great emotional - but fast - solo in the middle. Zakk also covers Procol Harums 1967 rock ballad classic A Whiter Shade Of Pale on sole piano very well, revs a grooving southern-rock-mellower with No Other, and ends the album nicely with Fear, a “once-again-nice-piano-song” that includes – guess what? – a magnificent solo! Who could have known …..

Ive seen many sources say that this album is too mellow to hold the Black Label Society moniker. Yes, it is mostly mellow cause it is full of ballads, but these are about as heavy and stylish as ballads mostly based on acoustics and piano can get in my view. Zakk throws just the right mix of electrics and rough vocals to spice it up to miles above the over-saccharine ballads of the radio rock-yanks like Third Eye Blind or The Calling. Some have also critisized the production on the record. I cant get those claims either. These are mellow songs! Its not supposed to blow your ears out with the sounds. For that you’ve got Stronger Than Death from the same band, ever heard of diversity? The sounds are just great and well-balanced for this kind of material in my ears. Of course, many might claim that this album doesn’t have much diversity either, but I disagree once again. Its amazing how different simple ballads can actually sound, when you know how to make good ones.

This break from the usual hard-blowing, concrete-mowing, all-destroying style of brutal rock that BLS has specialized in works off magnificently. Unlike In Flames with STYE, Zakk Wylde makes this change of style work with big success for me. This album is great for hangovers, special moments, think-work situations, jamming, lifting lighters, hallusinating, and just plain relaxation. Also one reason why I name this album a masterpiece by quote despite a few mediocre fillers (Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow and She Deserves A Free Ride), is that Ive been searching for ages for a mostly acoustic album in the vein of Book Of Shadows and Opeths Damnation that would actually sound GOOD with excellent songs. With Hangover Music, my search has been satisfied – for now, for a long time. If you know more, please let me know about them. I still wish that the next BLS record will return to the crunching rock style of Stronger;) But till then, lets mellow out for a while and pour ourselves another cold one.

This ones for you, Zakk! * Pffft…GlugGlugGlugGlugGlug…Aaaahhh *

Killing Songs :
Crazy Or High, Queen Of Sorrow, Steppin Stone, Wont Find It Here, House Of Doom, Damage Is Done, Layne, Woman Dont Cry, No Other, A Whiter Shade Of Pale and Fear
Aleksie quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Black Label Society that we have reviewed:
Black Label Society - Grimmest Hits reviewed by Goat and quoted 78 / 100
Black Label Society - Catacombs of the Black Vatican reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Black Label Society - Order of the Black reviewed by Jake and quoted 69 / 100
Black Label Society - Skullage (CD/DVD) reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
Black Label Society - Sonic Brew reviewed by Khelek and quoted 92 / 100
To see all 11 reviews click here
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