Black Label Society - Unblackened

I've been eyeing this release closely for months now, and just finally heard it in its entirety yesterday. With all the hype it had, and all the potential I thought was possible, I expected something much different. For the most part, or for the first CD, it pretty much just sounds like a bootleg live recording. It's decent quality, but it doesn't seem professional at all.

The second CD sits much better with me, but it's a bit more dramatic once the acoustic studio work kicks in. It also features a sweet softer take on Stillborn, the final live performance track. If you're a huge fan, give the whole album a listen. If not, give the melodically inclined version of Stillborn an ear.

It'll take a minute to really start up but once it does and the guitar shows its colors, it leaves behind any thought of the original. It shows that you don't have to scream like a musically trained angry hobo to really be BLS. I kinda wish this track was one of the Unblackened studio releases, but the few that are will have to do.

The rest of the album walks a little too crooked for my tastes. I'm a fan, I could sing along to a few tracks and it was fun, really. I'd never buy it though. The quality of the second half can't make up for the muddy sound the first CD brings, and those Unblackened studio tracks aren't all that amazing. I do admit I enjoyed hearing Zakk behind Ain't No Sunshine, comedic video and all.
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I'm pretty sure the quality could be tolerated if you're actually seeing the performance. I can understand that maybe, just maybe, they put a little more effort into the visual quality than the audio. The chance of that alone is enough to dock a few points from the final result, but that's just me being upset.

I can't say much on the quality of the composition, because most of it had been pre-recorded by the very same band. Yeah, it's great stuff, but you might as well grab a few of their best albums and piece together the best tracks. The only thing that makes the Unblackened live performance any more special than ordinary is how the audience will cheer even during silence. I wouldn't necessarily say you should stay away, I just think it's best left for the hardcore fans.
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  1. The guitar work is something special.

  2. It was really mellow. Wasn't expecting that from something with the metal label.


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