Skullage (Eagle Vision)
By Mike Delano
My first exposure to Black Label Society was seeing one of their music videos playing on the big screens on a loop between acts at Ozzfest. Since Zakk Wylde apparently let someone talk him into playing piano in the middle of a river in the video for the hammy ballad “In This River,” I thought he was a big tool (full disclosure: It’s a tribute song to Dimebag, so it’s understandably, if not justifiably, sappy). While that damning video is included on this CD/DVD combo, the bigger picture is much brighter. The greatest hits CD part of the package is a solid collection of highlights: Heavy on the big guitar riffs you’re used to from his work with Ozzy, but with better songs, from “All For You” and “13 Years of Grief” to the seriously soulful “Dead As Yesterday” and his signature tune “Stillborn,” which is featured four separate times. Outside of these picks, the songs are sometimes bland, with Wylde often relying too much on his distorted vocal tricks, but the disc is a fine primer for the curious, while fans will get their fix on the DVD. Filled with live footage, plenty of Jesus talk, and some hilarious insight into Wylde’s workout regimen and doll collection, he’s obviously learned a thing or two from Pantera’s indispensable DVDs. It’s exactly what a BLS fan would want. Just make sure to skip that damn music video.