BLACK LABEL SOCIETY
Released simultaneously in Blu-ray and DVD formats, this is the double CD version of Black Label Society's 'Unblackened' show, recorded on 6th March this year at LA's Club Nokia. And it was so called because the songs in their set have been, well, kind of unblackened. Re-arranged and performed in a more stripped-down format with additional acoustic guitar to supplement the distorted chords, Zakk Wylde's shred-fuelled soloing, the rhythm unit of John DeServio and Greg Locascio, and the addition of keyboard maestro Derek Sherinian on Mellotron, Hammond and piano, the tracks take on a different significance. This is still heavy music but just not the full-on rock/metal assault that one would expect from BLS. I guess that a degree of heaviness is maintained through the resonance of the actual sound too which is full and rich with low-end frequencies throughout. And it's not just BLS tracks that have been selected for reinterpretation. Drawing from his entire back catalogue, Zakk also revisits his ephemeral, early-nineties Pride & Glory project with fresh versions of songs from the sole, eponymously titled album it spawned, and his 1996 solo offering, 'Book of Shadows'. In fact, a fair chunk of the set is comprised of tracks from said two albums which, at nearly two decades old, are ripe for reinterpretation and proof is here on 'Unblackened' as everything works ever so well.
The sound quality is generally great and maintains an authentically live feeling in the sonics so will serve well those who favour audio over audio/visual live documents. My personal preference is the latter, and the Blu-ray version of this gig is superlative on all counts, although rather than merely bung the audio of the show on a couple of discs, extra effort has been made here to provide added incentive for wanting to own the CD. This takes the form of six extra tracks, all studio-based recordings, not found on either the DVD or Blu-ray formats - covers of Bill Withers' 'Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone' (which is ever so apt for Zakk's voice) and Leon Russell's 'Song For You'; an orchestral/acoustic version of Pride & Glory number 'Lovin' Woman'; orchestral/acoustic versions of 'Queen of Sorrow' and 'Won't Find It Here'; and a piano-centric/orchestral version of 'Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow'. Notably, drums, and any form of percussion in fact, are absent from the six bonus tracks so this is BLS even more stripped down than the 'Unblackened' show itself and, it could be said, showcase the band completely unblackened. And they sound fantastic in their acoustic guise. Overall, this is a neat little package. My preference is, like I said, the Blu-ray of the show but I'm sure BLS' hardcore elite who avidly follow Zakk and/or BLS will want to own both. And, undoubtedly, the bonus tracks will make this a much desired purchase for many.
Review by Mark Holmes
64:39 & 60:02
23rd Sept 2013
DISC ONE: 1) Losin' Your Mind; 2) The Blessed Hellride; 3) Sold My Soul; 4) Road Back Homel; 5) Spoke in the Wheel; 6) House of Doom; 7) Queen of Sorrow; 8) Machine Gun Man; 9) Sweet Jesus; 10) In This River; 11) Throwin' It All Away
DISC TWO: 1) Takillya (Estyabon); 2) Won't Find It Here; 3) Rust; 4) Speedball; 5) I Thank You Child; 6) Stillborn; 7) Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone; 8) Lovin' Woman; 9) Queen of Sorrow (Unplugged); 10) Song For You; 11) Won't Find It Here (Unplugged); 12) Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"The sound quality is generally great and maintains an authentically live feeling in the sonics so will serve well those who favour audio over audio/visual live documents."