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BLS's Masterpiece - 100%

mike584, April 10th, 2004

One of the benefits of working at a college radio station is I get to take home CDs to review them. Then, I get to burn a copy for the station and keep the original, as is the case with this. Yeah, it's that cool. So, I have an assignment for all you SDMFers out there. Listen to "Spoke In The Wheel", "T.A.Z", "Like A Bird", "Bridge To Cross", "Speedball", "The Blessed Hellride", and especially "Dead Meadow". Listen to them closely. You did? Good, because they are all somewhat like a sign a what was to come, especially with "Dead Meadow". This CD is absolutely nothing like what we all were predicting. This is not at all the Book of Shadows-meets-Pride and Glory album we were expecting. This album is unique in it's own right. Neither Metal or really Rock, this album has the ability to grab your attention from the opening moments of "Crazy or High". From there is perhaps the most emotionally draining experience since Book of Shadows. The sound is so warm. The electric guitars are so strong yet the acoustics are so soft. Add to that shockingly great vocal harmonies and some vintage synth washed here and there, it's almost as if Zakk Wylde was going for something right out of the mid 70s. Think Eagles meets Zeppelin at their most moderate, ah, the wonders of analog production. But underneath the music and overall wonderful production, themes of Drug Addiction, Abuse, Grief and Loss, and finding inner strength either darken or lighten such songs as "Steppin' Stone", "She Deserves A Free Ride (Val's Song)", "Damage is Done", "Fear" and the heavily depressing "Layne", a tribute to the late Alice In Chains frontman. Also on this record is a bare bones piano-and-vocal rendition of Procol Harum's classic "Whiter Shade of Pale" which almost leaves something to the imagination, especially when, if you listen closely with headphones, you can hear very faint drumming by Craig Nunenmacher. If there's one thing to say about this CD, it's that for these reasons, BLS have finally made their masterpiece, Zakk's second overall. It's the heaviest and darkest BLS record yet. And not because of guitar tones, although that could attribute to it, but because Hangover Music Vol. 6 shows that heavy is also a feeling, a though, an attitude.