BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, Sonic Brew (1999, Spitfire)

The skull:
Black Label Society have shown much love for the skull, and for that we give them great respect. A defleshed noggin’ o’ doom graces almost every one of their album covers, but Big Dumb Skulls is wary of featuring multiple albums by bands obsessed with the skull. We appreciate those bands’ efforts, of course, but we need to give every skull-rockin’ metal band their chance in this illustrious spotlight. We’ve chosen Sonic Brew to represent BLS’s contribution to the Big Dumb Skullection. The artwork on their debut displays a motif similar to what you might see on the back of a biker jacket. Simple and classic. The floating skull lacks a mandible, and the image is seemingly taken from a medical textbook that I can pretty much guarantee no one in Black Label Society has ever read. I can’t even claim the guys in the band are literate in any way, shape or form.

The music:
Black Label Society is basically Black Sabbath for the trailer park set, but since I intend no insult to the Birmingham gods, how about: Black Label Society are like a laid back, Southern rock-inspired Pantera. And if that sounds as unappealing to you as it does me, you probably also haven’t taken the time to listen to the band any more than you have to. But as a responsible moderator of Big Dumb Skulls, I’ve listened, and I’m here to tell you: you ain’t missin’ much. I like Zakk’s playing to a degree, I own one album with him on it (Ozzy Osbourne’s No Rest for the Wicked) and that’s plenty for me. He rips, I’ll give him that, but it all starts sounding the same after five or more minutes of immersion. If you love Zakk’s playing but can’t stand his vocals or the Generic White Trash Metal they play, here you go, all the solos from BLS’s first album and nothing but the solos:
— Friar Wagner