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This album pounds... hard. - 87%

Shred1921, May 30th, 2003

Damn. I wasn't a huge BLS fan... then I picked up this record. The Blessed Hellride is a fine piece of sludge metal. Zakk Wylde is one of today's most talented guitarists, and he really shows it here. He writes sludgy, heavy, brutal riffage, and then tops the songs off with mind-blowing solos. I bought this record on a whim and I haven't been able to keep it too far from my CD player ever since.

We open with "Stoned And Drunk." Just looking at this title on the outside of the CD case let me know that this was gonna be another brutal, ugly, BLS track, and I was right. The main riff is awesome, the drumming here (and throughout the album) is fresh and imaginative. Zakk's vocals are constantly improving, he keeps the southern growl, but remains very commanding. After almost 4 minutes of solid drunken bashing, Zakk switches into lead mode (he does EVERYTHING on this album except for drums) and rips out a nice, meaty, 30-second shred of a solo. "Stoned and drunk, completely gone!" *headbang, headbang, headbang* Great opening track, raise a beer and bang out with this one.

Next up is "Doomsday Jesus." A halting intro with some weird vocals starts us off, and Zakk drops into a heavy-as-fuck riff. He screams along into some more frantic start-stop riffing. Zakk yells "doomsday jesus, we need you now!" a bunch of times, then we speed up into some Priest like guitar revving, and then Zakk nails another short, but crazy solo. This song is fairly short and repetitive, but the riff is heavy and very powerful.

Track 3 features the Ozzman on guest vocals, and is called "Stillborn." Great drumming here, very cool beat, tons of kick. Zakk tries a more clean vocal style with Ozzy shrieking along behind him. The riff isn't very penetrating, but switches from higher up on the fretboard to more heavy quite often, and chugs along when it's needed. Zakk hits another cool solo in the middle. This is one of the shortest songs on the album (and that's saying alot since nothing breaks 5 minutes) but it gets the job done. Not as strong as the previous two, however.

Track 4 is called "Suffering Overdue." Big, chunky, southern sludge riff here. Definite slow-bang material to be found on this song. Zakk is back to the harsh vocals. Another good beat, the drumming throughout, as I mentioned earlier, is very solid. This one goes through the paces for a couple minutes. We break into a softer part with some distant vocals, then speed back up into a different faster riff. Heavy drumming pushes this along for a bit, then Zakk hits another great solo. Major shred bit near the end of the solo, one of the best on the album. Song breaks down from there. More variation on this track, one of the strongest here.

Next up is the title track, which features Zakk strumming along on the acoustic with another neat drum beat underneath. This is a fairly straightforward, ballady style track. Zakk leads into a cool bluesy style solo, which is actually two solos over-dubbed for a neat effect. This is just a simple track, but good for cruising.

Track 6 is the best on the album for me, called "Funeral Bell." Big, meaty crunch riff leads us into the song. Solid, heavy bass-snare drumming powers it along. More cool drunken lyrics from Zakk here. This one just plain rocks along. Nothing fancy, nothing out of the ordinary. Zakk rips into a solo at the 3/4 mark of the song, and it's another keeper. Great riff on this song.

Track 7 is called "Final Solution." Another funky riff here. Not so much heavy as it is different. Breaks into a stutter riff for some parts as well. Near the middle, the song switches up for a very melodic and melancholy solo, one of the longest on the album.

Track 8 is "Destruction Overdrive." Another great riff here, more chuggy and fast-paced than the last song. Total shred-fest of a solo, even though there isn't much of one. Shortest track here, just makes three minutes. Not really anything to shake a stick at, but still fun.

Track 9 is another ballady style track called "Blackened Waters." Melancholy, slow riffage leads us into a very atmospheric track. This is an up-and-down sort of track, with heavy parts and soft parts interchanging. The song builds up for a bit into the solo, which is very strong. Song breaks down from there. Very powerful.

Next, we have "We Live No More." Sweet drum beat leads us into a not-so-typical Zakk riff. This is more up-beat than the rest of the stuff on this record. Zakk is doing his best Ozzy impression here. Song moves through the paces into another good solo, lots of variation in this solo. The song ends abruptly.

Finally, we have Zakk getting in front of the piano for "Dead Meadow." There's some guitar bits here too, and another solid drum beat. This is the most ballady song on the record. Tons of lead guitar work here, mixes nicely with the piano. Some very controlled, slow soloing and heartfelt vocals. Kind of an escape from alot of the material on the album, but a good way to close it out.

All in all, this is a very strong and powerful album. Nothing too crazy technically. All of Zakk's riffs are strong. Heavy when they need to be, and very melodic and touching when they don't. Very strong solos, both fast and slow, both shredding and melodic. Zakk proves that he is one of the paramount guitarists of our time. The drumming is strong throughout, and the bass follows the riffs alot, but the rhythm is very powerful. Another solid Zakk release. If you like anything remotely heavy that you don't have to think too much about, but still appreciate solid riffage and amazing lead work, this is a great album.