Black Label Society – Sonic Brew Review

Black Label Society - Sonic Brew

Black Label Society – Sonic Brew

Sonic Brew is the debut album by the American Heavy Metal band Black Label Society. Black Label Society eventually evolved into a full-on band, but at this stage they were essentially just the solo project of Zack Wylde, the guitarist made famous by playing in Ozzy Osbourne, and who had released one piano filled solo album and one Southern Rock album with Pride And Glory.

The sound of Sonic Brew is a dirty, muddy and doomy mixture of Classic Heavy Metal touches, a sort of Stoner Rock approach, and also occasional hints of Alice In Chains in Zack’s vocals. Its all packaged in a theme of Biker culture and alcohol consumption.

Where the album really shines, as you may expect, is in the lead guitar department. While not as melodic as Iron Maiden, or as measured and full of feeling as Pink Floyd, the guitar solos are blistering, full of tricks and personality. Zack has a very distinctive style, so much so that you can tell its him right away. If you hear it and dislike it, this may become a problem because this style is not only prevalent on the album, but throughout his entire career. If you like it however, great news! There’s loads of it to enjoy.

Black Label Society’s groovy, heavy, slightly stoner rock sound casts a wide appeal. They would be suitable for fans of Black Sabbath, Pantera, Down and Clutch. If you enjoy the heavier side of Ozzy especially, you may want to check the band out.

Sometimes people can get a bit snobby about Zack and the band, leveling ‘style over substance’ or ‘not heavy enough’ at them, but this record is a straight forward, heavy and impressive collection of meaty, substantial songs. So if you heard a few BLS songs and thought they were too commercial, too grungey, too generic, or not raw enough, then Sonic Brew is probably worth trying first, rather than the likes of Mafia or Shot To Hell. This album is one of their heaviest, darkest and least commercial efforts. Its just full of fat dirty riffs, its got big grooves almost all the way through and it picks up some pace every now and again instead of living exclusively in the mid-tempo range. It has some colour and balance, but isn’t overly full of ballads or radio songs. This record even still has a faint hint of Southern Rock to it here and there, more so than any of the records which would follow.

Highlights include the storming opener `Bored To Tears’ as well as `Lowdown’ and the ferocious `The Beginning …At Last.’

Overall; if you like Black Label Society anyway or anything else that you’ve heard Zack appear in, this is a good album to check out. If you want them at their rawest, darkest and heaviest, then look no further.

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