January 13, 2018
The Bomb Factory
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Tim Taylor
Photos by Terry Walsh
Black Label Society
Black Label Society & Corrosion of Conformity
There’s nothing better than a great metal show on a Saturday night in Deep Ellum. Black Label Society and the reunited, Pepper Keenan-led version of Corrosion of Conformity are a perfect combination of stellar live performers, and beloved veteran rockers with well-known back catalogs and exciting new music for 2018. The Bomb Factory was packed and sweltering, with a stench of beer, weed, and sweaty dudes, which was exactly what I expected.
C.O.C. are touring in support of their new record No cross No Crown, which was released the day before this show, and already has metalheads freaking out over how good it is. While only “The Luddite” from the new record was played, the rest of the set was a good mix of the crunchy stoner rock classics that everyone wanted to hear. Songs like “Vote With a Bullet” from 1991’s Blind and “Long Whip/Big America” from 1996’s Wiseblood got everyone’s adrenaline flowing, while “Who’s Got the Fire” started the fists pumping and fans singing. I’m usually not a guy who gets excited when a band plays their biggest hits, but as Pepper Keenan and drummer Reed Mullin played the beginning of “Albatross” from the brilliant Deliverance, I got chills as I was reminded that it was one of the coolest and heaviest songs of all time. They closed with “Clean My Wounds”, which included a perfectly harmonized guitar solo between Keenan and lead guitarist Woody Weatherman. Most of us couldn’t believe it was over so quickly. Hopefully we’ll see them back as headliners soon, playing songs like “Forgive Me”, “E.L.M.”, and their cover of Queen’s “Son and Daughter” from No Cross No Crown. This record is a must-have for every metalhead, and the first great album of 2018!
Black Label Society came out and delivered a crushing set, despite having cancelled several shows leading up to this one due to Zakk Wylde falling ill. Zakk always gives everything he has, though, and this night was no different. He kicked our asses right from the start with the one-two punch of “Genocide Junkies” and “Funeral Bell”, standing up on a platform and ripping solo after blistering solo. The cool groove of “Heart of Darkness” and a sing-along version of “Suicide Messiah” kicked the show into another gear, but it was the new material from the upcoming Grimmest Hits that stole the show. An extended version of the bluesy “All That Once Shined” brought the tempo down a bit so Zakk could introduce the band in a way only Zakk can do, and “Room of Nightmares” just rocked me to my core.
Anytime Zakk Wylde is in Dallas, you know there will be a loving tribute to the legendary “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott. As Zakk sat at the piano and played “In This River”, images of he and Dime hanging out, laughing, drinking, and playing music together were shown, bringing extra emotion and meaning to the song, and moving large, bearded men to tears. Young guitar shredder Dario Lorina took center stage and played a mind-boggling solo, which helped make it a perfect moment. As beautiful as that was, Zakk wasn’t going to let us leave depressed. The highlight of every BLS show since the Mafia album came out in 2005 is when the song “Fire It Up” is played. At this show, however, they took it to a new level of awesome. In the middle of the guitar solo, Zakk jumped into the pit, marched through the crowd, and just played his heart out in the middle of the Bomb Factory floor. Everywhere you looked, people just stood in awe, with jaws dropped and eyes popping out of their heads. It was, by far, my favorite moment at any BLS show that I’ve been to.
BLS closed the show with high energy renditions of “Concrete Jungle” and the fan-favorite “Stillborn”, and judging from how exhausted I was by the end of the set, I’m sure Zakk was about to pass out. He never disappoints, and as many times as I’ve seen him in the last three decades, I’m still blown away by his guitar skills every time. He’s been one of my favorite guitarists since I heard “Crazy Babies” for the first time, and I love that he’s still making new music, new fans, and delivering powerful performances consistently. I’ll never get tired of it!!