Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society + Mammoth Mammoth
170 Russel, Melbourne
30 November 2015
Review by Joshua Bulleid
Zakk Wylde and his Black Label Society have been mainstays of the heavy word for more than a decade and a half at this point. If there’s anything that their recent slew of sold-out shows across Australia has proved, it’s that Wylde and his posse of heavy metal henchmen haven’t lost one iota of the passion and professionalism that has seen them become so entrenched in the heavy community.
Mammoth Mammoth were the perfect band to kick-off the night’s proceedings. Their idiosyncratic brand of primal garage rock immediately grabbed the attention of the Russel’s many willing punters, before quickly proceeding to whip them into an early frenzy. Mammoth Mammoth are firm proponents of the power of the riff and, by the time their set culminated in the choice-picked covers of Kyuss’s Green Machine and MC5’s Kick Out The Jams, the crowd were fired up and eager for more.
It wasn’t long until Wylde and Black Label Society exploded onto the stage and sent the room’s already potent energy skyrocketing. There seemed to be a few among the audience who may have been put out by the band opening with The Beginning… At Last but as soon as the crushing groove of Funeral Bell dropped-in, there wasn’t a head to be seen that wasn’t banging along in agreement.
Something that really stands out about Black Label Society’s live performance is the unique spin the band bring to their songs in the live setting. Whether it’s a frenzied rendition of an old-school stalwart like Suicide Messiah, or a sludged-out Alice in Chains-inducing take on My Dying Time, the Black Label Society live show is a distinctly momentous occasion, which offers an undeniably more personal experience than most. Which lends significant credence to the band’s heavy talk of “family” and “brotherhood.”
Of course, there was near-endless shredding on display from Wylde, who lasted roughly a minute-and-a-half on stage before he was hammering away at his guitar behind his head. Although it’s long-time Black Label Society collaborator John DeServio who perhaps impressed most with his own, frequent, four-string flurries.
There’s no denying the sheer energy and genuine enjoyment Black Label Society bring to the live front, the night was only further testament to the band’s position as one of the most sincere and formidable heavy acts on the planet.