Before the world went through its monumental change almost a year and a half ago, Black Label Society was all set to tear across the country with Obituary and Lord Dying on the Doom Trooping Across North America Tour. The band had been relatively quiet until news broke in June that the band was going to be hitting the road in the fall. What most fans, including myself thought, was that this tour was to get back to cities on the original tour a year earlier with additional dates added.
But in late August the band not only released a new single Set You Free, but announced that they were set to release their 11th record Doom Crew Inc. on November 26th (Black Friday). Now, the Doom Trooping Across North America Tour has officially landed at the House of Blues and the Orlando Chapter of the Black Label Society are eager to go to war.
It goes without saying that there are few bands that have the undying loyalty of their fans like Black Label Society. These people drive from all over to catch a show or even hit multiple shows on a single tour. This band pours everything they have into every single note that they play for their fans, making every show a lasting memory. Before the show had even started, myself and about 40 others were fortunate enough to be part of a Meet & Greet with the band.
From the minute they walked out they were nothing but engaging and sociable. Zakk Wylde personally greeted every single person with a handshake and a hug before introducing them to Jeff, Dario and JD and taking a photo with them. The band’s tour manager Talena Rose did a great job with setting everything up so it all ran smoothly and that everyone there enjoyed their time with the band. So if you have the opportunity to do the same, I promise you won’t be disappointed. Now that the first half of our evening is over, it’s on to the main event.
When the lights go out, the defining cheers of the mighty Black Label allegiance over powers the sounds of the classic BLS intro theme of Whole Lotta Sabbath. As flashes of spot lights cut through the massive stage sheet, the panning sounds of the opening sample from Bleed for Me takes over the speakers. Before long the silhouettes of Dario Lorina, Jeff Fabb and JD DeServio can be seen walking across the stage as the unmistakable shape of Father Zakk Wylde perching himself above the crowd. When the giant current crashes to the ground as the band launches into action as towers of compressed air fire off around them.
Iconic sight of Zakk’s blonde hair whipping side to side ripping on a guitar while donning that recognizable kilt has been something these fans have been waiting on for 2 years to witness. The band kicked off the show with nothing but high energy and ferocity capped off by a killer solo by Zakk with Dario coming in later on the assist. The high octane musical assault would advance forward with devastating tracks like Demise of Sanity, Overlord and Heart of Darkness, certainly scratching the itch that the Orlando Chapter have had for some good old fashion guitar shredding metal.
In between songs the three axe slingers walk off stage to change out guitars. But when Zakk returns to the stage it’s impossible to look past the fact he is now sporting a gorgeous double neck, instantly getting a rise from a crowd. With the stage gleaming blue the soothing sounds of a classical piano start to seep out of the monitors. Soon Father Zakk would step up, point both necks to the sky and belt out the opening chords of the title track to Black Label Society’s iconic record The Blessed Hellride. For the first time of the night, the fans’ voices can be heard loud and clear as they would instantly raise the vocal ambiance of the song.
That would kick off the calmer and more intimate portion of the set, really showing the dynamic songwriting abilities of Black Label Society and how much of a contrast it would be from the rest of the show. As the song comes to an end the stage lights drop out and single spot light reveals Zakk now behind the Baldwin piano on the right side of the stage. We soon get a bit of a history lesson as the piano man informs us that “This next one was the first Black Label song ever written”. For some it may have taken a couple of notes to pick up on it but for others, they knew right away it was Another Spoke in the Wheel.
As if the emotional tone of the show couldn’t get any higher, it would be that time of the show when Black Label Society paid their respects to fallen legends Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul with their gripping tribute In This River. Within a couple seconds of the start of the song, those iconic banners of the Abbott brothers roll out over the stack of amp cabinets on either side of the stage as the crowd’s ovation tears through the building.
There are very few songs as moving or as honored as this and it just hits you right in the feels every single time you hear it. As Zakk’s impassioned voice and lyrics are undeniably the focus point of these live renditions, a lot of credit is due to both Dario Lorina’s guitar work throughout most notably his stunning guitar solo, but also Bassist JD DeServio’s work at providing a steadfast rhythm section. As the song wraps, the cheers and applause from the fans was so strong and steady that it seemed unlikely to end.
After taking their foot of the gas for a few, Black Label Society put it to the floor as they would blast through Zakk’s aggressive finger tapping solo and Dario channeling his inner Jimmy Page bow work in Trampled Down Below right into the high powered Destruction Overdrive. One song that I was looking forward to seeing live for the first time was the first single off of their upcoming album Doom Crew Inc. Set You Free.
The band would hide this gem towards the end of their set and was met with a great ovation. With its head banging driven beat provided by drummer Jeff Fabb, its instantly addictive guitar riff, 3 piece vocals and an absolutely blistering solo duet definitely made this a highlight of the set. This is only a small taste of their upcoming record but it has certainly caused our appetites to grow much more!
As the stage is blanketed in red with green beams of light streaking from above, the unmistakable sound of the intro to Fire it Up sends the fans into a frenzy. The crowd’s excitement is still ringing out as Zakk steps up to the mic and says “The Orlando Chapter put your hands together”. Now the cheers are replaced with thunderous clapping which is just fueling the anticipation to the start of the song. After a cymbal hit from Jeff the compressed air is once again detonated around the band as large black and white beach balls are catapulted from backstage. It looked like a giant party as fans sent them floating through the air while the band played on
This is just one of those hard hitting songs that you can really feel the energy coming off the stage and it’s one that the fans look forward to at every show. But there’s something else about this particular song that always makes this a climactic point of a Black Label Society concert. Pre-Covid, this would be the point in the show where Zakk Wylde goes walkabout around the venue. He would normally post up in the middle for a bit, then go to another area while continuing to shred his heart out and not miss a single note. In some cases Father Dario would crash the party and the two would duel it out for what seems like an eternity.
But these are different times and like everybody else, Black Label has learned to adapt. Finishing off with the last verse of Fire it Up, Zakk jumps up on his riser and lays down a fairly impressive lead before stepping down to allow Dario up for his time to shine. But instead of Zakk walking out into the sea of fans he decides that on top of his piano would be his platform to unleash his six string spectacle. The two would dazzle the crowd with their superhuman speed and agility on the strings whether they were playing them in front or behind their backs. You know, like any mortal guitar player does. As both guitar slingers jump down they give each other an approving fist bump before capping off this 9 minute guitar clinic with a brutal rendition of Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water.
With very little down time in between songs, JD DeServio would lead the charge into another iconic tune off of Mafia with Suicide Messiah. Definitely one of the heaviest songs on the record and that heaviness immediately translates right into whenever it’s performed live. One of the highlights is always when a member of the crew rips “It’s just your Suicide Messiah” into the mic with a megaphone as the crowd roars it right back. On the very last bar, Zakk lets the crowd finish off the song on their own with that same memorable verse as he stood proudly clapping with approval.
Jeff Fabb pounds away on his kits making way for the band’s instrumental interlude. Under Zakk’s solo you can slightly make out JD plucking a very famous bass line and it wouldn’t take long for them to break into Black Sabbath’s Black Sabbath. After a few motivating words to the fans our front man looks back and asks “Father Jeff. LETS GET IT ON”. Black Label Society then drops their swan song Stillborn on the room as Zakk’s endless falsetto soars off of the stage. The drumming barrage that moves this musical locomotive of pinch harmonics and blistering leads trigger strobes around the stage as yellow lighting dances over the fans.
The audience sang every word with all that they had and soaked up every note as most knew this would be the last song of the night. With the final note ringing out Zakk raises his guitar straight up in the air while the stage all but explodes around him. When the house lights come on they reveal every fan with their hands in the air, delivering their loudest ovation of the night in total appreciation for the show they just witnessed. During the fans’ grateful acclamation, Zakk Wylde, Dario Lorina, Jd DeServio and Jeff Fabb all get together at center stage and give their bows of appreciation to all those in attendance.
Following their final bows all four make sure to toss as many guitar picks and drum sticks out to the faithful Orlando Chapter of the Black Label Society as they can. Some lucky fans were even able to snag towels that Zakk used to dry his brow right before launching them into the crowd. As the band leave the stage for the final time, the signature feedback sound of Zakk’s guitar laying on the stage cuts off and therefore officially bringing tonight’s show to a close.
Black Label Society pulled off another amazing show and certainly filled the void of good old fashion guitar shredding riff crunching metal in their lives. They truly put on a show like no other and with such a killer setlist there was not a fan leaving this venue disappointed. There is still a whole month full of shows left on this amazing tour with Obituary and Prong so make sure you get your tickets because you do not want to miss this tour. For your Pre-Order copies of Black Label Society’s new album Doom Crew Inc., tickets/VIP and all of your BLS merch needs head to their website.