Black Label Society – Sonic Brew (1999)

There is something unique about Black Label Society’s debut Sonic Brew.  I’m not sure if it’s the ultra-heavy groove with the southern touch, or simply nostalgia, but this album is chock full of fantastic songs and happens to be this writer’s favorite BLS album.  Zakk Wylde comes from the Hair Metal scene.  There, I said it and it’s undeniable.  He played in Ozzy’s solo band for quite sometime, released a bluesy Badlands-styled Pride and Glory album and then gave us this offering.  It’s quite different to the acoustic solo stuff we first heard and it’s certainly no Hair Metal record.  This is hands down a southern sludge/stoner album.  Borrowing the heaviness of Kyuss and the sludge/groove of Down, BLS delivered Sonic Brew to the world when Nu-Metal was all the rage, Power Metal was making a come back, and Death and Black metal seemingly reached their peaks.  It was time for a return to the basics and nothing is more basic than the blues, right? So, Zakk Wylde dropped his Hair Metal tendencies and made way for a combination of classic Heavy Metal and the Stoner Rock style being developed at the time.  The result was a fantastic, relentless, yet stand-able record that offers the listener pleasure and no headache after the 6th or 7th track, which often happens to albums so consistent it hurts.  After this, BLS would continue to deliver but the catchiness would be lost for a time.  This remains their best and a personal favorite.

Rating: 5/5

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