It was a shred-tastic night of metal with three contenders for the gold medal in the hardcore veteran band department at Rebel in Toronto! The 6-string whirlwind that is Zakk Wylde brought his Black Label Society machine to town for a makeup date from their postponed January 2018 gig, along with Corrosion of Conformity and NOLA’s EyeHateGod.
The show was delayed due to border issues with EyeHateGod taking the stage about an hour late. But guitarist Jimmy Bower and his mega beard wasted no time doling out his usual solid dose of the super sludge. Vocalist Mike Williams was wrestling with his mic cord and stand all night in a twisted dance 35 years in the making. His ground-up asphalt vocals were as gravelly as the day they hit the scene in the late ‘80s when for god’s sake we needed something to rescue us from the onslaught of the hair band hoard.
Snarling frontman Pepper Keenan took his rightful place back with Corrosion of Conformity recently, and the band is now back to their previous full meal deal glory days sound. Opening the show with a punishing new track, “The Luddite” from their current release No Cross No Crown, the band smacked the crowd with a frantic 8-song set of vintage styled COC. Guitarist Woody Weatherman and bassist Mike Dean, founders of COC, stood tall with the two new tracks played, as well as pulling fists into the air with 2 classics, “Albatross” and “Clean My Wounds”. Keenan thanked the crowd for their support and that the group would be hitting the road for a stint of headlining shows soon.
Check out the recent Black Label Society music video for “A Love Unreal” here.
As the giant black BLS curtain dropped and the CO2 cannons roared, Zakk Wylde and company took the stage in front of the metal band requisite wall of speaker cabs and began their 2-hour sonic assault. What can be said about Wylde’s show that hasn’t already been said? The guy is a veteran virtuoso shredding monster. Decades alongside Ozzy Osbourne, decades in his solo project BLS, and still literally banging his head while wielding his buzz saw, bull’s eye, or double neck axes all show long.
Decked out in his trademark blue denim be-crested vest and blue tartan kilt, he held court atop his metal platform alongside his human skull-laden mic stand. Wylde spent much of the show at centre stage except for his work at the grand piano (with large backdrops with photos of Pantera’s Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul draped over the speakers) and when he made his customary trip out into the centre of the crowd for some up close time with the fans.
Rebel has an upstairs gallery that Wylde took full advantage of, as he over-the-shoulder-soloed for the fans from high above them. The show is really about Wylde, but a frontman is only as good as his band. And his band is super-good. Guitarist Dario Lorina, bassist John Deservio and drummer Jeff Fabb are as solid as it gets. Wylde has a few dates with his Black Sabbath tribute band Zakk Sabbath in August, then embarks on tour with Ozzy August 30th, which hits Toronto on September 4th at Bud Stage.