An invocation of memories past
There is something so comforting about the release of a Black Label Society album. Their eleventh studio album, Doom Crew Inc., feels like unwrapping a box of early ‘00s nostalgia that was wrapped up in shiny new packaging. A band over twenty years in the making, Black Label Society has stuck to their tried and true roots to deliver another familiar set of songs to air guitar out to.
The intro on the album’s premier track, “Set You Free,” sounds like an audio tour of a misty morning in Hobbiton before softly crescendoing into a sensual, grooving trudge. With a chorus reminiscent of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” they invite people into the album with the lyrics, “Take my hand, walk with me.” Guitarist Zakk Wylde creates the bridge with one of his signature solos. His licks are as smooth as a knife slicing through a room temperature stick of butter.
The track “Destroy & Conquer” is another solid addition to the metal genre’s smash room soundtrack. With a sound allusive to Nickelback’s 2009 hit “Burn It to the Ground,” or Priestess’ 2005 hit “Lay Down,” this track invokes biblical imagery utilizing octave unison and the foreboding tale of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The creation of an album is such a personal journey. The more it’s listened to, the more one can learn about its creators. It was actually pretty cool to hear Wylde’s Christian views hiding on Doom Crew Inc. It’s hidden, but it’s in there once the lyrical layers are peeled.
Black Label Society tries their hand at a balled on the track “Forever and a Day.” While the harmonies provided by bassist John DeServio add subtle interest, it’s not enough to cover what plays out like a teenager’s poor attempt at a love song. The lyrics are a bit too lofty to induce true emotion and Wylde’s dry guitar solo doesn’t take people anywhere. A better ballad was presented on the track “Love Reign Down.”
Utilizing an upbeat tempo and swung eight notes like a milder version of ZZ Top’s “La Grange,” “Gather all my Sins” mixes in a bit of frontier twang to create is a real southern metal stand out. Wylde’s call-and-response structured guitar solo is another element steeped in the roots of southern music. Presenting like an improvised, one-take garage band jam session, this particular solo was an interesting deviation from the straightforward standard presented on the rest of the album.
Containing an amalgam of inspiration from the multitude of projects and musicians Black Label Society has worked with over the years, Doom Crew Inc. would make a challenging and entertaining expansion to the Guitar Hero video game series. It’s easy to get lost in Wylde’s insane guitar riffs without stopping to recognize the pure mastery and control he has over his instrument.
With twelve well-organized tracks to relish, Black Label Society has created another hit album that gives off the warm, fuzzy feelings of sentimentality. Doom Crew Inc. is an album that displays their mastery of consistency, and luckily for us, these guys sure do know how to rock.