Chris Loomis

Black Label Society @ El Rey Theater – 05/22/2019

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Zakk Wylde is practically a household name in the music community and is without a doubt one of the most talented guitarists out there, one of the most creative musical minds and definitely one of the hardest working musicians around. After starting as guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne some 30 years ago, fronting his own bands, first Pride & Glory then Black Label Society and most recently Zakk Sabbath and participating in several touring entities such as Experience Hendrix and Generation Axe, the man is a true heavy metal warrior. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first Black Label Society album Sonic Brew, Zakk Wylde and BLS did a spring tour that had the band play each stop of the tour for TWO nights – the first night playing Sonic Brew in its entirety and the second night playing all the hits. On Wednesday night May 22, Black Label Society made the last stop on the tour at the historic El Rey Theater in Los Angeles.

After warm-up sets from Conan and The Atomic Bitchwax, the Los Angeles chapter of Black Label Society was more than ready to get this night going. 1999’s Sonic Brew is a classic hard rock album with Southern overtones and a distinct guitar driven sound that was the bridge between Pride & Glory and future heavier Black Label Society albums. Many of the songs on Sonic Brew have not been played live in quite some time so this would be an epic night for the BLS Berserker community.

After an intro song, “Whole Lotta Sabbath” that mixed Led Zeppelin with Black Sabbath songs, the curtain dropped and Zakk Wylde decked out in a denim BLS vest and green kilt stood atop a small riser center stage as he wailed on the beginning of the first song on Sonic Brew, “Bored to Tears”. Between being behind his mic stand singing and the constant hair whips back and forth while on guitar it’s hard to get a good glimpse of Wylde these days but his vocals are as strong as ever and his guitar playing is indescribable.

Black Label Society also consists of guitarist Dario Lorina who while playing as a teenager with the late Jani Lane and then Lizzy Borden has become quite the guitar virtuoso and compliments Zakk and probably gives him a run for his money in some cases. Lorina is without a doubt the most talented guitarist Wylde has had in the band since its creation. Longtime BLS bass player John “J.D.” Deservio who has ties with Wylde back to the Pride & Glory days may be on the short side but more than makes up for it with attitude and his thick bass thumping techniques. Drummer Jeff Fabb has been with BLS for seven years now and has more than earned respect from the fans as the perfect time keeper for the band.

Zakk Wylde showed off his piano playing skills on “Peddlers of Death” that also had Lorina shredding the solo. The acoustic guitars came out for “T.A.Z.” and “Spoke in the Wheel” again showcasing the pure musical talent of Zakk Wylde. The highlight of the night if you are a superfan of Wylde’s guitar soloing was his extended solo as he wandered through the crowd and up onto the balcony during “World of Trouble” as he just shredded the heck out of his guitar for a good fifteen minutes.

“The Beginning . . . at Last” ended the Sonic Brew marathon at last . . . Wylde and Black Label Society have played many epic shows in Los Angeles over the years but this one was certainly one that won’t soon be forgotten. Black Label Society completed the “20 Years of Sonic Brewtality” tour the following night at The El Rey with a night of BLS hits. Up next, Zakk Wylde hits the road later this summer with Zakk Sabbath – no rest for the wicked (or Wylde).

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