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For the pedestrian Zakk fan - 58%

JamesIII, January 15th, 2010

As a general rule, I so not look kindly on "best of" compilations or such compilations meant to provide the listener with a certain artist's potential. Such collections of material rarely ever do the artist justice, instead cramming their disc space with more familiar songs that usually overshadow the band's better days. Naturally, such commericialism never gets sympathy from me and I very rarely buy into the idea of a certain artist's best days jam packed onto one CD.

With Black Label Society's "Kings of Damnation," I broke this rule of mine because I was just getting into the band and Zakk's solo work in general. For that purpose, this compilation does a decent job, better than most could. As an introductory tool, it provides you with more than just Black Label Society which aside from being Ozzy Osbourne's only saving grace since 1991, is Zakk's biggest claim to fame. It also opens your eyes to his more obscure work, including the short lived Pride & Glory run and his solo album in "Book of Shadows."

Pride & Glory is summed up in "Losing Your Mind" and "Horse Called War" the latter of which does sound like a prototype of BLS. The first song comes complete with a banjo intermingling with the guitars, and this does not spell disaster as one would think. The entire Pride & Glory album was deep in Southern influence, definitely feeding off admiration for Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet. Of these two tracks, I pick "Losing Your Mind" as the better one, though I would have loved to have seen "Harvester of Pain" or "Troubled Wine" here instead of those two as they do the "Pride & Glory" album better justice.

The "Book of Shadows" material are also highlights, as that album in itself was a good listen. Its a more somber and mellowed out Zakk, instead of alcohol fueled axeman who sings about crushing you beneath his boot. The standard BLS fare kicks on "Bored to Tears," which is the only song off the "Sonic Brew" album present. Naturally, you get BLS' more familiar tunes in "Bleed for Me," "Stillborn," and "Stronger Than Death." Unlike alot of other bands, this actually represents some of the stronger material off their respective albums. Considering "Demise of Sanity" and the above average slow mover "We Live No More" are present, this makes a pretty decent chronicle of Black Label Society up to 2005.

You get two previously unreleased songs in "Doomsday INC." and "SDMF" tacked onto the end, undoubtedly to entice fans into getting this. Based on those two songs alone, I would not buy this if I already had a good collection of BLS albums. Neither are necessarily bad, but neither really make the extra money put into this compilation worth it. Even the additional pre-BLS songs are not really worth the price of this compilation, as you can find the individual albums themselves for about the exact same price and the full albums themselves are a far better experience.

If you have no idea who Zakk Wylde is and want to learn, then by all means seek this out. I'm sure you can find some in the bargain bin, for buying this brand spanking new is a bit of waste as with all compilations of this nature. The song material is pretty strong all things considered, but again, I've always seen proper albums as law when it comes to music. Two non-music concepts to keep in mind as well would be the lack of liner notes, other than a message from Zakk Wylde himself. The other would be that this was released around the same time Zakk left his recording label, so calling this a cash grab is not all that far-fetched. Considering its better than your average cash-grab is little consolation, and I would advise only the fans with minimal knowledge of Zakk look into this. Otherwise, stick to picking up a copy of "1919 Eternal" or "The Blessed Hellride," as those are better insights into Black Label Society and Zakk's work in general as of recent years.

This Review is for the One Disc Set Only - 45%

pinpals, October 12th, 2005

Black Label Society is one of the few bands that plays real metal (as opposed to the likes of Limp Bizkit or Linkin Park), and they've put out so many great songs. But while the songs on here are good, they missed some of BLS's greatest songs like "Stoned and Drunk" and "All for You." Of course, if you are getting into BLS, this is a decent place to start, just know that there are great songs that were left off of here as well (motivation to pick up the individual albums). The two new tracks are pretty good, but people that already own the majority of the songs on here need not pick this up just for those two songs. This is just one of those albums that comes out after a record company loses a band, and release a (usually terribly put together) greatest hits package to take as much money from the band's fans as possible.