Personnel: Zakk Wylde (vocals, guitar, piano, bass guitar); Nick "ET" Catanese (guitar); James LoMenzo (bass guitar); Craig Nunemacher (drums).
The title, KINGS OF DAMNATION, and the cover art, which features the silhouettes of a devil head and two Playboy bunnies sporting horns and forked tails, would lead most to assume that this is an all-out heavy metal offering. But guitarist Zakk Wylde likes to mix things up. Best known for his work with Ozzy Osbourne, Wylde doesn't stick to mainstream metal formulas in his solo work. Instead, he delves into heavy, bluesy jams, hardcore thrash, and country-flavored acoustic numbers, among other styles.
The bluegrass banjo that leads off "Losing Your Mind," the opener, should indicate pretty clearly that Black Label Society is not metal-as-usual. In fact, much of KINGS OF DAMNATION is quite melodic, and full of more traditional songcraft, as on the muscular, shifting "Sold My Soul" with its sweeping strings and verses. Wylde's husky voice suits the overall vibe nicely (in the lower register he sometimes sounds like ex-Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell), and the combo of serious riffage, good songwriting, and eclecticism makes this worth a listen for fans of hard, adventurous music.