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Editorial

Around Our Town...Music to Your Ears



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04/01/2005 - I grew up in the seventies and eighties, a time when rock and roll gods ruled the earth. At least we thought they did. I've since lamented the demise of the whole heavy metal thing, wishing at times like some pathetic version of Uncle Rico that I could just go back. The scene started to go the way of the buffalo in about 1991 or so. Grunge was on it's way in, and all things metal were crushed in its wake. Metallica put an exclamation point on the despicable loss of our beloved genre when they did the unthinkable and cut their hair. I think I cried out in anger and pain that day.

As depressing as it all was, or is, given the ridiculous wave of nu-metal that has taken over our youth like a musical cancer, I'm happy to report that there is hope. You see, Ozzy's venerated guitarist, Zakk Wylde, has a little side project called Black Label Society. Actually it's more like a big, scary monster. BLS just released a disc that has the power to single-handedly rescue heavy metal. This is the real deal, folks. Those who have some sort of affinity for loud, aggressive music (we know who we are) will exhibit that universal headbanger's response upon hearing this molten slab of metal that Zakk and the boys have wrought. It happens every now and then. You buy the disc, get in your car and remove the incredibly annoying shrink rap and that little white strip along the spine of the jewel case. You pop the disc in, turn the volume up and wait anxiously. Then the music, then the grin. It's a stupid, ear-to-ear smile. Your head starts nodding to the sounds issuing from your speakers, and the knowing chuckle of discovery escapes your (grinning) mouth. I reacted this way that day back in 1984 when I bought Metallica's "Ride The Lightning" opus. Same thing with Testament's "The New Order," Slayer's "Reign In Blood," and more recently, Shadow's Fall's "The Art of Balance."

"Mafia" is a throwback. But then, so is Zakk Wylde himself, for that matter. He cuts an impressive figure on the stage, legs spread wide, guitar slung low, and hair down to about here. He's an old school shredder, ripping out spine-tingling leads at a time when most guys who try to pass for rock guitar players wouldn't know a solo if it jumped out of the Marshall stack and bit them in the...spot where Zakk's hair goes to. This newest effort from Zakk and his band is a genuine, headbanging, fist pumping, boot stomping paen to the way things used to

and still ought to be in the rock universe. These songs are just plain baaaadddd. This stuff could make your grandma rock out. The guitars are thick and heavy, the drumming crisp, and the bottom end is thunderous. Then there's the voice. Zakk sounds like Ozzy and Alice In Chains' Layne Staley (r.i.p.) all in one. The swagger and attitude in his singing is astounding, causing the whole thing to drip with testosterone. As for the lyrics, just as for a majority of metal acts, who cares? Zakk travels the well-worn paths of Apocolyptic doom, I'm badder than you, My woman done me wrong, and Death is inevitable, with the same innocuous cliche's that have been done a gazillion times. And it's okay. In fact it's great. If a BLS album caused me to think, I wouldn't know what to think. Better just to turn it up and roll down your car window. Don't forget to smile, because real rock and roll is going to be just fine. Now, if all the guys in Metallica would just grow their hair back...

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