Zakk Wylde-TEO Magazine-Adelaide-Music-Sydney-Music-HQ Complex

Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society hit Adelaide like a storm on Friday, November 27. Touring off the back of their ninth studio album release, Catacombs of the Black Vatican, saw fans of young and (mostly) old crowding HQ and sporting denim vests with the BLS logo blazing on the back.

Adelaide’s own Ice On Mercury were the support, and they did their job well; building up the crowd with each song. Lead man Almir’s rich vocals blended well with their heavy rock sound, and tempo changes kept the crowd on their feet. Their songs featured great guitar riffs and such versatile vocals, growling and screaming, that their songs were never once boring. Ice On Mercury also whipped out a few covers – very well done too; ‘Shine’ by Collective Soul and lastly, to finish off their set, ‘Killing In The Name’ by Rage Against the Machine.

Zakk Wylde-TEO Magazine-Adelaide-Music-Sydney-Music-HQ Complex

With a softly lit skeleton reaper backdrop and screens of skulls either side of the drums, it was an impressive set up and the atmosphere was humming. The stage went dark as ‘Whole Lotta Sabbath’ began playing and as it grew louder the crowd sang along with fists in the air. Opening with ‘The Beginning…At Last’ was fitting and it showcased Zakk Wylde’s deep, gravelly voice and his shredding skills.

With a multitude of personnel changes within the band over the past 17 years, the current lineup features Dario Lorina on guitar, John DeServio on bass and clothed in tattoos, Jeff Fabb on drums. The only constant throughout the life of the band is Zakk Wylde himself, who played guitar for Ozzy Osbourne, and it is definitely his air of presence, not to mention music that keeps fans coming back for more.

Zakk Wylde-TEO Magazine-Adelaide-Music-Sydney-Music-HQ Complex

Black Label Society played a good variety of songs, including ‘My Dying Time’ from their latest album, a crowd favourite, ‘In The River’ which featured Wylde on the keys, and ‘Bleed For Me’ where the crowd got rowdy in the mosh. The crowd was also treated to a guitar solo. Nay, not a guitar solo, a shredding solo. A five minute solo where he shredded those guitar strings like there was no tomorrow. With Wylde’s Viking looks: long blonde hair, beard and bulky muscles, he was literally a heavy metal god. And the crowd believed it.

Bass player DeServio was captivating to watch throughout the show. Preferring to play bass with his fingers, he picked, strummed and slapped with such speed it was impressive. Lorina on guitar definitely stepped up to the ball during ‘In The River’,where his riffs echoed through the venue during the well-loved song. And it was no wonder Fabb didn’t wear a shirt while drumming, he would’ve sweated it off with all that heavy hitting.

Zakk Wylde-TEO Magazine-Adelaide-Music-Sydney-Music-HQ Complex

It was certainly refreshing to see the crowd react so eagerly to Wylde’s attentions, he’d beat the air with his fist and the crowd would copy, he’d play guitar behind his head and people would be head banging in bliss. They played no encore, because they didn’t need to. Ending their hour and a half set on ‘Stillborn’, Wylde beat his chest in time with the crashing of the cymbals and held his guitar in the air while the crowd roared. The band stood and bowed together to the crowd, and Wylde hesitated before heading off stage to salute his fans. Like I said, they didn’t need an encore. They gave the crowd everything.

There is something so honest about heavy metal. Maybe it’s seeing hands clenched into rock symbols in the air instead of phones. Or maybe it’s that Black Label Society attract people of all backgrounds with their heavy melodies and intricate riffs, and that fans truly appreciate the music they make.

Zakk Wylde-Black Label Society-TEO Magazine-Adelaide-Music-Sydney-Music-HQ Complex

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Words: Ebony Story
Photos: Matthias Pfeil