Black Label Society - Mafia
Artemis
Crushing Heavy Rock
14 songs (48.14)
Release year: 2005
Black Label Society, Artemis Records
Reviewed by Aleksie
Attention all society dwelling motherfuckers and fans of hard music in general: Break out the whiskey (the liquer store didn’t have any left, dammit), six packs (check, in left hand), wrestling DVDs (check, in right hand) and Stone Cold Steve Austin “WHAT?”- T-shirts (check, currently wearing) and turn the volume knobs to “earthshattering” – Black Label Society is here again and after the refreshing slice of Hangover on the previous album, the heaviness is back with a vengeance.

That enthusiastic beginning said, I must also add with tiny discomfort that it also seems that a slight break from studio albums would do Zakk Wylde good. The album – a bit too long as it is – has some very clear filler among the excellent tunes, a characteristic not shared by many earlier BLS discs (OK, 1919 Eternal and Hangover excluded).

The voice box-induced mellow intro leads the album off to a massive start with the grinding riffmonster that is Fire It Up – a party tune and rousing spirit-lifter if there ever was one. Whats In You and the first single Suicide Messiah chug on with excellent mid-paced grooves while the nice piano intro starts Forever Down, another great, fast slice of brutal rock. In This River continues Zakks winning streak of magnificent rock ballads – a great breather in the middle the mayhem. From this outstanding beginning the album starts the unfortunate “hit-miss” – pattern that goes on till the end. You Must Be Blind is a very weird tune – its fast, it has some killer riffs but when that chorus hits – it just annoys the hell out of me for some weird reason. I skip this song every time I play the record, which is a first when it comes to Society songs. The excellent production also very oddly seems to cave in on this one track as the guitars are very muddy and weaker – just on this one track. Dr Octavia is a 52-second shredfest that of course displays Zakks amazing skills on the fretboard, but its function is simply lost on me, since there are blasting, shredderiffic solos on about every complete song too. To add to this, the solos on the whole songs wipe the floor with Octavia, memorability- and air guitar-wise.

Say What You Will and Electric Hellfire keep the quick paced axe-wielding intact on the ending of the record while Too Tough To Die and Been A Long Time (dammit, that solo is awesome) riff their way through mid-speed grounds with style. Then again Death March and Spread Your Wings are among the tracks that just float through without much damage done. Luckily Dirt On The Grave closes the album, as Wylde still refuses to produce a bad ballad. Pianos and acoustic guitars meld in perfectly with the voice box and Zakks ever-more-Ozzy-resembling-baritone.

Nunemacher and Lomenzo keep up one helluva tight rhythm section throughout the album. Besides much criticism Ive seen over the years, I just love Zakks voice. It aint the prettiest around and definitely not the most technically adept, but dammit if my balls aren’t curled up every time that growl hits the speakers then slap me silly – attitude, feeling and life, that’s what it has.

Overall, Mafia is not BLS´s best record. The Blessed Hellride and Stronger Then Death beat this one up with consistency alone. But Mafia is still an outstanding album filled with unashamed and grinding riffrock, which quite frankly in these times is pretty fucking much. I raise this ale in the name of the hardest working man in metal and wish for more of this fantastic head bashing in the near future, even though a short break to really dig out those most ass-kickingest riffs could hit the spot right now for the band.

Killing Songs :
Fire It Up, Whats In You, Suicide Messiah, Forever Down, In This River, Say What You Will, Electric Hellfire, Been A Long Time & Dirt On The Grave
Aleksie quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Black Label Society that we have reviewed:
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
Black Label Society - European Invasion - Doom Troopin' (DVD) reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
To see all 10 reviews click here
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