As Camden town’s Electric Ballroom fills up, a sea of Black Label Society leather patches and vests made up the near sold-out crowd.
Black Label Society, The Electric Ballroom – 7 June 2022
Words: Kahmel Farahani
Photography: Steve Ritchie
Tonight, Zakk Wylde’s doom trooping crew are back in the UK to play the first of two London shows in the run-up to their performance at Download festival this weekend.
The lights go down, the traditional Whole Lotta Sabbath intro plays before the curtain falls, and Black Label Society emerges shredding up a storm at window shaking volume. As the doomy riff of Bleed For Me leads into The Demise Of Sanity, its almost hard to hear any one instrument as the echoes of the noise start rebounding off the walls of the venue.
Thankfully, by the third or fourth song, things are back under control and the band steam through Heart Of Darkness.
Standing tall like a Viking warrior in his kilt in front of a mountain of skulls microphone, Zakk Wylde still cuts an awesome figure on stage, and his playing is almost untouchable. From the fastest shredding to the sheer power of riffs like Fire It Up, Wylde is a marvel to watch.
Playing three songs from last year’s Doom Crew Inc album, tonight’s setlist has something for everyone.
The rhythm section is held down by long-time bassist John DeServio and Jeff Fabb on the drums. Things slow down a bit for the tender Spoke In The Wheel before Zakk takes to the piano to play the classic In This River.
Backed by huge posters of Dimebag Darrell and the late Vinnie Paul, it’s still a touching tribute to Zakk’s lost brothers in music. It’s the sole change of pace in the entire gig as things fire up to ear-bleeding volumes again for Trampled Down Below.
Suicide Messiah may just be Black Label’s finest song, and tonight it’s given an extra stretch as Zakk and fellow guitarist Dario Lorina began trading solos, first standing facing each other and then flipping their guitars behind their heads and continuing to shred.
It’s a fantastic sight to behold and the perfect set-up for tonight’s final song. Stillborn is the classic BLS anthem, and tonight, as the entire Electric Ballroom sings along, it sounds better than ever.
As the band take their final bows and unfurl the various flags and banners thrown to them from the crowd, Zakk takes the time to raise his bullseye guitar to the heavens, beats his chest like King Kong and takes a final bow with his Black Label vest.
A perfect end to a thunderous celebration of Heavy Metal.
Bleed for Me
Demise of Sanity
Destroy & Conquer
Heart of Darkness
A Love Unreal
You Made Me Want to Live
The Blessed Hellride
Spoke in the Wheel
In This River
Trampled Down Below
Set You Free
Fire It Up