Black Label Society - Sonic Brew
Spitfire Records
Hard Rock / Heavy Metal
14 songs (59:40)
Release year: 1999
Black Label Society, Spitfire Records
Reviewed by Khelek
Archive review

What can I really say about Black Label Society? Ever since their inception by Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde, they have been a force in American heavy metal music. This is the band's debut album released in 1999, and for a debut it is damn impressive. I had actually been listening to the band for some time before getting a chance to hear this album, and I was definitely missing out.

Right from the start, the opening track Bored To Tears starts things off with some heavy bass distortion and weird guitar sounds. After about 30 seconds of this the guitars come in with some extremely catchy and heavy riffs. Wylde's rough, heavy metal vocals fit the music very well. This song is an excellent start to the album as it really gives a good overview of what this album is all about, namely catchy, extremely heavy songs that embody that old-school hard rock / heavy metal feeling. The next song that catches my attention is Born To Lose, which is another really memorable song. The guitar playing on this song definitely sounds like it was influenced by Jimi Hendrix to some extent, but with a raw, hard rock edge to it. There are of course a few slower songs on the album. Peddlers Of Death starts out with a piano for the intro and the softer, cleaner side of Wylde's voice. The heavy riffs still make an appearance for the chorus however, making the song sound almost like a ballad. Spoke In The Wheel also shows the softer side of the band with some excellent acoustic guitar work. I really like the production work on this album, although it's difficult to point to any one reason for this. I think it's mostly because the lower end of the sound is always accentuated and the music always seems to hit like a ton of bricks. The guitars are also extremely distorted which gives the album a rough, old-school sound.

Looking back at this album, I'm honestly not sure how the band could have made their debut much better. All the elements are there and they all come together to create an excellent heavy metal album. Wylde might not have been a vocalist by training or profession before this, but it is hard to tell from his performance. While he never does anything amazing with his voice, he does have a range that fits this type of music very well. The guitar work is stellar throughout the entire album, but that can only be expected from someone who began his career as Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist at age 19. The bass and drums also hold their own on the album although there's nothing really technical going on. But to me this isn't even an album that needs a whole lot of technicality, just good song writing. This album has it in spades. If you are a hard rock/heavy metal fan, getting this album is a necessity.

Killing Songs :
All of them
Khelek quoted 92 / 100
Adam quoted 89 / 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 - European Invasion - Doom Troopin' (DVD) reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
To see all 11 reviews click here
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