Album review

Black Label Society : 1919: Eternal

Black Label Society : 1919: EternalAbandon hope all ye who enter the Eternal. This is dark. Dark in the way that dark should be. It's a bleak wasteland of an album and the desert is littered with riffs you'll be scraping your knees on.
    While the others where sleeping, Zakk Wylde has been busy doing everything a guitarist should be doing - playing. A summer at the Ozzfest 2001 with Black Label Society, an appearance in the recently released Rock Star movie, the new entrance music for the WWF's Stone Cold Steve Austin, loading up the riffs onto Ozzy Osbourne's Down to Earth album, going on tour with Ozzy and putting this little number together.

1919: Eternal is as heavy a release as you could want. Bleed for Me kickstarts the album that takes in a number of tracks that could go into heavy rotation, until the most likely single release appears in Bridge To Cross. Proceeding Bridge To Cross are another ten tracks that lay waste to most who venture into this territory. It's not as easy a genre to master as one might think. Do it wrong and you wind up nothing more than a joke - do it right and you should be getting mucho respecto from your contemporaries.
    So why aren't Black Label Society dominating the rock scene? The answer may lie in Zakk Wylde's work philosophy. While he looks and plays the rock star to the hilt, the media have (maybe) seen it all before, and while the UK is on its nu-metal binge, the hopes of that changing in the near future are slim. Wylde couldn't care less he's doing what he does as best he can and as much as he can and that's all he wants for himself. I take my hat off to him, and in time, so will you.
    The closing moments of 1919: Eternal are as heavy as Sabbath at their peak - just check out Berserkers and Refuse To Bow Down. The best material though haunts the midsection and weighs the album in at a good running length with just enough power to exhaust you in one sitting, but not so much that you O.D. Battering Ram is pretty much as comfortable as sliding down a gravel pit on your elbows, and you sure don't hear guitars sing like this much these days. But by far the standout track here is Speedball. A mean mystifying track that broods with malice. It never really takes off in the direction you would expect, and there lies the secret of Black Label Society.
    Whatever you think of them, the end result is one blistering album and is easily Black Label Society's finest moment.

:: Sion Smith

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