Guitar titan and unholy Father of the Black Vatican, Zakk Wylde, is back for the first time in three years to grace us with his burly brand of grinding rock. His new Black Label Society effort, Catacombs Of The Black Vatican, is jam-packed with throbbing chiaroscuro from start to finish. 

 

Even with Wylde’s sobriety in tow, the record reeks of whisky-stained machismo. It pummels the ear with explosive riffs and soulful southern-style ballads. Incredible shredding, pinch harmonics and Wylde’s throaty wails blazon the distinctive BLS sound and yet there is an overarching, refreshing flavour to the album. ‘Beyond The Down’, ‘Damn The Flood’ and ‘I’ve Gone Away’ pounce on you with their throttling big-riff grooves. The heartfelt crooning of ‘Angel Of Mercy’ and ‘Scars’ expresses a more tender and reflective side to Wylde. The album’s curtain call, ‘Shades Of Gray’, howls straight from the pits of the catacombs.

 

Wylde claims his studio houses “a ton of glue, steroids, Kimmy Kardashian Quick Trim and a whole bunch of Viagra”. It may be the lethal combination of everyman in mid-life crisis, but we don’t care what he’s sniffing. BLS’ latest offering is dark and meaty with enough moshworthy grunt to blow your skirt up.

 

4/5

 

Catacombs Of The Black Vatican is out now through Bullet Proof/Universal.

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