In the darkness of the House Of Blues, the anxious calm was broken by the screeching cry of an air raid siren as Black Label Society stormed the gates with ‘The Beginning… At Last.’ Standing before a microphone stand adorned with skulls, the towering Zakk Wylde ignited the room with a searing tone and an arsenal of photo shoot-worthy stage moves.
Wylde’s renowned pinch harmonics and powerful vibrato were in full effect, much to his fans’ delight, while behind the scenes, his rhythm playing laid a foundation of punishing riffs and unshakable groove. Those virtues were especially clear in ‘Crazy Horse,’ a wailing, thunderous number from Black Label Society’s recent Order Of The Black.
Drummer Will Hunt, a recent addition to the group, was hard-hitting and tight with a seemingly boundless supply of energy that made him exciting to watch throughout the set. On bass, Berklee alumnus John DeServio brought forth a rumbling tone and a deand was equally dripping with stage presence.
In between beefy riffs, rhythm guitarist Nick Catanese appeased the masses with frequent pick tosses, and helped Black Label Society establish a sense of camaraderie with their Boston chapter. Wylde himself often paused after songs to humbly thank the loyal assembly, which endeared them to him all the more.
Wylde’s tribute to fallen brother Dimebag Darrell, ‘This River’, saw the burly frontman suddenly seated in front of a piano – leaving the adept Catanese in charge of the song’s heart-rending solos. Wylde’s fervent vocals were augmented by the song’s music video, projected behind the band, which portrayed the young Dime and Wylde playing together along a riverbank, along with clips and photos of Pantera’s axeman in his prime.
Midway through the set, the churning ‘Fire It Up’ led into Wylde’s solo – a flurry of pentatonic stabs and squeals frequently interrupted by dramatic dive bombs. Although lengthy, Wylde’s showcase was engaging and exciting as he crossed the stage mid-lick to face every section of the venue.
As the show neared its climax, the anthemic ‘Suicide Messiah’ and the grinding ‘Stillborn’ drove the audience into a frenzy of flipping hair. Too soon, the boys in black took their leave and the house lights were raised, but their exit only served to fuel the hunger for Black Label Society’s next Boston meeting.