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Black Label Society

Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society - photo by Andrew Gargano CD: Skullage
Record Label: Eagle Rock Ent / Armoury Records
by Chris Fox
July 2009

Helping create the definition of heavy metal, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY continues to redefine themselves and their sound. From acoustic ballads, to shredding solos, to a community of brothers, these guys have become a people’s band. According to Nick Catanese (Guitar), “take Zeppelin and Sabbath and put them in a blender from hell, and you have Black Label.” The famed frontman, Zakk Wylde, and the “Evil Twin” (Cantanese), find themselves in a family that has been rooted with their band.

Often defined as “the working man’s band,” BLACK LABEL SOCIETY keeps the blue collar feel of heavy metal without alienating the music scholars. “We’ve seen the difference in the crowd,” explains Catanese, “long time fans are bringing their sons and daughters to our shows.” These guys bring the ideas of community and family to a traditionally defiant and rebellious crowd. Combined with their sense of family, this quartet’s obsessive love of music is what truly defines them. Without any prompt Catanese elaborates, “music, breathe it, live it, becoming one with it,” is what they attribute their inspiration to. The Black Label family is constantly growing, as he digresses about Sevendust vocalist Lajon Witherspoon wearing the Society vest at every show and representing the family. The clan spans from sixteen year old kids with pink Mohawks to fifty year old biker dads, and it continues to grow. Without any gimmicks or fronts, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY deliver an unapologetic barrage of heavy music that will both melt your face and put you in the clouds. Brutality with thought.

Black Label Society's Nick Catanese - photo by Andrew GarganoCatanese attributes the vigorous passion for music to the fact that they “never stop learning.” He doesn’t take his new arsenal of PRS guitars for granted, Catanese explains that, “the guitar is a gift, and you use it.” He elaborates about Wylde never putting the six-string down while they are touring. Jamming on stage everyday just isn’t enough because “playing is when everything makes sense,” he explains. Their astoundingly energetic show is proof that playing is the best part of the day for these guys. They truly feel their music, and much of that can be credited to the bluesy origin of their music. “People seem to lose their roots,” explains Catanese, but BLACK LABEL SOCIETY seems to have more in common with Robert Johnson than any of the contemporary electric blues players. Letting everything hang out was a trademark of blues and thanks to these guys and other artists like them the tradition stands. Rooted well on where they came from and spreading to greater reaches of the music world, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY keeps the spirit of both blues and heavy metal alive.

Playing and writing music helps them “realize how much what they do means and the true power of music,” explains Catanese. A family off the stage, joining their extended family with fans at their shows, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY has helped keep the true essence of heavy metal. Sticking together as patrons, advocates, and children of heavy metal is what it is all about. Representing themselves and all of us that support the monster that is metal music, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY will be performing at WJJO’s Band Camp at Willow Park in Madison on August 9. As Catanese explains, “never lose your love of [the music]” and Black Label will always exist.

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