Doom Crew Inc. by Black Label Society

Review by Scott Harmon

Black Label Society, newest recording, “Doom Crew Inc.” slated for release on November 26, 2021.

Supply chain crisis be damned, Black Label Society, has delivered sixty-three minutes of unapologetically rambunctious music on their new release “Doom Crew Inc.” Let’s reiterate that point; sixty-three minutes of heart-pumping shredding mayhem, mixed with some fine melodic breaks and some surprisingly soulful ballads.  It’s as if they plowed a musical battleship through the sea of freighters parked off the coast of Southern California’s beaches to deliver what may well be Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society’s finest effort.  This collection reflects the evolution of a band as it mines more sophisticated arrangements, employs more musical dynamics, and reveals a maturing vocal performance that sounds even better than past albums.  One caveat though; the band has not lost its primal punch.  Like all Black Label Society music, this too taps into our deeply rooted id; music that can reveal and release the pent-up angst hidden deep within even the office accountant’s psyche. 

Some guy named Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times . . . it was the spring of hope. It was the winter of despair.” That quote just about sums up the world’s zeitgeist these days.  And it is just that collective consternation that makes this music all the more necessary.  Unlike the appeal of a strident march in classical music that may rouse a martial response on an intellectual level, this music reaches into your enteric nervous system and dispenses with intellectualizing, rather it demands a visceral response. It demands that you feel something. And that is the beauty of this music.

The band’s influences are pretty obvious and include the pantheon of legendary hard rock and heavy metal bands.  Acknowledging that nearly all modern music is derivative, this album’s songs are nonetheless instantly recognizable as belonging to BLS. And that’s part of what sets this music and the band apart from their peers.  Track 1, Set You Free, starts out nice and pretty. But, don’t be deceived.  That intro is like the moments you’re sitting in a roller coaster in the loading area. It’s all festive smiles until the ride blasts its passengers into the first 360-degree loop at 60 miles per hour.  From there it’s all white knuckles, disheveled hair, and lost sunglasses.  

This collection of songs doesn’t have a soft spot in it.  There are some particularly memorable songs though, for example, “You Make Me Want To Live” with its flanger drenched guitar in the verses where the singer pays homage to another for restoring their hope.  “Forever and a Day” is a beautiful piano-driven ballad that segues into a simple solo which in turn morphs into legato insanity. “Ruins” is another deceptive song that features a simple, haunting introduction that gets heavy real fast. This song really showcases the guitar virtuosity of both Zakk Wylde and Dario Lorina. They trade licks and harmonize throughout the album, but at about 3:30 minutes in on Ruins, they have a musical conversation that is clearly two different voices, opinions, and attitudes.

Doom Crew Inc.” track listing:
Set You Free
Destroy & Conquer
You Made Me Want To Live
Forever And A Day
End Of Days
Ruins
Forsaken
Love Reign Down
Gospel Of Lies
Shelter Me
Gather All My Sins
Farewell Ballad

One last comment about the individual songs, “Love Reign Down” is simply beautiful. Zakk, a piano, and an organ for nearly 2 1/1 minutes is not what one might expect, but to the legions of Berserkers who have seen BLS perform live, they know Zakk has serious keyboard chops and can move the emotionally unprepared to a misty-eyed moment. 

One could further muse at length on the individual songs as there’s a lot to take in on Doom Crew, Inc., but suffice it to say the rest of the songs are equally strong and they all lend themselves to live performance. The band is currently touring the U.S. and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more rewarding show to see this fall.

Doom Crew Inc. sees Zakk trading solos and twin-guitar parts with Dario Lorina, backed by the rumble of longtime bassist John “J.D.” DeServio and powerhouse drummer Jeff Fabb. Like every BLS album since 2010, the band tracked Doom Crew Inc. at Zakk’s home studio, aka the Black Vatican.

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