With Support from Black Tusk and Crobot.
The Institute, Birmingham, 12th February 2015.
As we waited for Black Label Society to come on stage, a homage to rock and metal echoed around the room. A fusing together of Led Zepplin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and Black Sabbaths ‘War Pigs’ was a great intro to the next ninety minutes of monstrous metal that was about to unfold. Front man Zakk Wylde is well known for providing his axe guitar services to Ozzy Osbourne, but tonight he was fully unleashed to show the world his brilliance. Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society did not disappoint as they tore up the stage.
With an insane number of Marshall Amps lined up behind him, this mountain of a musician proudly took to the centre stage atop his personal podium to shake the room senseless starting with ‘The Beginning… At Last’ from the latest album ‘Catacombs of the Black Vatican’, thus beginning one of the loudest gigs out on tour at the moment. The full mass of Wylde’s muscle and hair pounded through track after track.
Although Wylde tends to be the focus of attention for Black Label Society, fellow band members John DeServio (bass, backing vocals), Jeff Fabb (drums) and Dario Lorina (rhythm guitar, backing vocals)all showed off their great talents; each being an awesome visual metal act in their own right.
A ten minute guitar solo demonstrated Wylde’s mastery of the power chords before effortlessly dropping behind the piano for a delicate playing of ‘In This River’, with the track dedicated to Dimebag Darrell. The twin necked guitar was brought out for a frenzied ‘Blessed Hellride’ before ‘Stillborn’ concluded things. No half hearted wait for an encore, just a simple finish to an exemplary night of hard rocking with the Birmingham Black Label Chapter.
Black Tusk were flying the flag for Sludge Metal. This is a new genre for me, but if you like your metal music as a wall of thunderous sound with high octane growling vocals then this is for you. Tragedy befell the band last year when their bass player Jonathan Athon passed away. However the band has continued and has one hell of a live show to offer. They’ve certainly earned praise for tonight’s performance that was bursting with energy with plenty of folks in the crowd seeming to appreciate them.
Crobot opened the night. They certainly could do with a bit more extra space on stage because they are energetic with lots of sudden expansive movements. You can hear and see hints of classic rock and heavy metal from the 70’s and 80’s but they project a feeling that is bang up to date. They openly hero worship Clutch but there’s a magic here that see’s the band perform beyond those that have influenced them. The reception they get at the end of their set is vigorous. Hopefully Crobot have a lot of new fans, I know I’m one of them!
Review and Photography by Stephen Turner.