Mon Sep 23 2019
6:30 PM Doors
Share With Friends
Varsity Theatre Presents
Black Label Society ft. The Black Dahlia Murder + Alien Weaponry
BLACK LABEL SOCIETY
Zakk Wylde – Vocals/Guitar
John DeServio – Bass
Dario Lorina – Guitar
Jeff Fabb – Drums
Black Label Society bandleader Zakk Wylde wields his guitar like a Viking weapon, bashing out thick riffage and squeezing out expressive squeals as if the glory of his Berserker brotherhood depends upon every single note, which of course, it does.
Charismatic beast and consummate showman, Wylde puts his massive heart and earnest soul on display with unbridled, unchained, animalistic passion in Black Label Society, whether it’s a crushingly heavy blues-rock barnstormer or a piano-driven ode to a fallen brother. Each Black Label Society album is another opportunity to top the one before it, but like AC/DC or The Rolling Stones, BLS isn’t here to reinvent the wheel. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s a brand we can trust.
Mighty missives like “Damn the Flood,” “In This River,” “Stillborn,” “My Dying Time,” “Queen of Sorrow,” and “Blood is Thicker Than Water” have amassed millions of downloads and streams. They are the soundtracks to sweat soaked revelry, jubilant evenings that descend into bewildering mornings, and adrenaline fueled sports.
Grimmest Hits, the band’s tenth full-length studio album and follow-up to Billboard Top 5 entries Catacombs of the Black Vatican (2014) and Order of the Black (2010), Black Label Society submit new anthems like radio single “Room of Nightmares,” the bluesy “Seasons of Falter,” and Southern-fried “The Day That Heaven Had Gone Away” to the BLS faithful; 12 unstoppable tracks to add to that lifestyle soundtrack..
While members of esteemed rock and metal institutions like Alice In Chains, Metallica, Type O Negative, Clutch, Danzig, and Megadeth have passed through the band’s ranks, Black Label Society has consistently been defined by Wylde’s unmistakable voice and signature guitar sound and the steady rumble of bassist John DeServio. BLS is rounded out, in the studio and onstage, by guitarist Dario Lorina (since 2013) and powerhouse drummer Jeff Fabb (since 2012).
This is as much a band as it is a symbol of strength, honor, commitment, and diehard “society,” as evidenced by the legions of supporters who proudly donned the Black Label Society colors years before motorcycle culture was back in fashion.
Black Label Society are vigilant keepers of the hard rock n’ roll flame, protecting its sonic characteristics and vibe while engaging in reverent study of its chief architects. Given that Wylde’s kids’ are named Hayley Rae, Jesse John Michael (named after his Godfather, John Michael “Ozzy” Osbourne), Hendrix Halen, and Sabbath Page, it’s clear that he takes his study of rock n’ roll’s greats very seriously.
To many, Wylde is synonymous with pinch harmonics as much as Chuck Berry dreamt up the duck walk. Zakk’s signature Les Paul Bullseye guitar hangs in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. His infamous leather bellbottoms hang in the Grammy Museum. His handprints are on Hollywood’s Rock Walk of Fame. He’s performed the National Anthem at major sporting events. He wrote the 2013 Major League Baseball theme for ESPN. He even momentarily joined Axl Rose, Slash, and Duff in Guns N’ Roses. He is a playable character in the Guitar Hero games.
A lifelong disciple of Black Sabbath and the longest serving guitar-shredder for the Ozzman himself, Wylde co-wrote modern Ozzy Osbourne classics like “No More Tears,” “Mama I’m Coming Home,” “Road to Nowhere,” and “Miracle Man.” Together with Ozzy bassist Blasko and drummer Joey Castillo (ex-Queens Of The Stone Age), Wylde pays faithful tribute to the forefathers of metal as frontman for Zakk Sabbath.
Before he graced the cover of every meaningful guitar magazine on the planet, Zakk Wylde was a kid in New Jersey who picked up his instrument before he’d even hit high school. He was still a teenager when he got his demo tape into Ozzy’s hands. Together with the man he affectionately calls “the Boss” (and whose wife and manager, Sharon, he calls “Mom”), Wylde was part of the biggest selling album of the legendary Black Sabbath singer’s solo career, No More Tears, as well as the double-platinum Ozzmosis, and earned a Grammy for the live recording of “I Don’t Want to Change the World.”
One part invading horde and all parts traveling carnival party, Black Label Society traverses the world powered by caffeine and cacophony. BLS engages and inspires audiences everywhere they go, on every radio dial they burn, inviting all comers to join in and participate in their brotherhood and sisterhood of hard rock and vigor.
Now ten studio albums deep, with solo records, Ozzy shows, and Zakk Sabbath tours all kicking ass simultaneously, Black Label Society rides ever forward, fist held high.
Any band that has earned an army of devout followers through dropping seven killer full-lengths - and touring their collective ass off for sixteen years - could perhaps be forgiven for thinking they could take it easy as they wade into their eighth release. But that's just not The Black Dahlia Murder's style, and Nightbringers is testament to that. Having released their most accomplished, aggressive, and emotionally diverse music to date in the form of 2015's Abysmal, the Michigan quintet have once more pushed themselves to new heights, and the 34 minutes of searing melodic death metal that comprises Nightbringers is riveting listening. "I always feel a responsibility to the people who support this band when we start making a new record," asserts vocalist Trevor Strnad. "The pressure that comes from people being excited to hear what you come up with next can be intimidating, but it's so exciting that those people love you so much for just doing what you do. It makes you want to honor what you've done in the past, but also excite them with where you go next, and that definitely drove us on 'Nightbringers'. When we started writing I honestly didn't know we had this album in us, and I feel really proud of it. It's a great moment for us. "
Rather than meticulously plan things out or stick rigidly to any kind of template, when it comes to writing, The Black Dahlia Murder prefer to let things happen organically. In the hands of guitarist Brian Eschbach - who co-founded the band with Strnad in 2001 - and new recruit Brandon Ellis (Arsis, ex-Cannabis Corpse), Nightbringers is rich with dynamic riffs that are at once fresh and classic TBDM, resulting in a collection that shifts through many moods and effortlessly incorporates various elements of extreme metal. With guitarist Ryan Knight having amicably stepped down in 2016, the addition of twenty-four-year-old Ellis to the band's ranks has helped usher in an exciting new era. "He's very professional for his age, I think he's skilled far beyond his years, and his live energy is exceptional. When Max (Lavelle, bass) joined the band he challenged a lot of us on stage to raise our personal bar, and Brandon's pushed that even further," states Strnad. "Brandon coming into the band and writing a bunch of songs was an awesome surprise too. He really took the reins, and this record is also the most involved that Alan (Cassidy drums) has been too. The way that we were doing the demos and bouncing things back and forth he had a lot of room to do what he wanted to do, and I think it's definitely a more colorful album for that. I also think as we get older the emotional content goes up. I think we better realize how to grip the listener. Personally, I try to write lyrics that are going to match each part, and kind of ramp up those feelings that we're putting across." Strnad's statements are vividly borne out by every moment of Nightbringers. For fans attending 2017's Summer Slaughter tour, the first taste of of the record came with the inclusion of the title track in their set, which has an undeniable immediacy to it, rich with hooks and boasting a "circusy, evil and playful" air. By contrast, "Catacomb Hecatomb" is suffused with tragedy, the mournful tone of its slower passages deeply affecting. This too is dramatically different to "As Good As Dead", which has some swagger to it that Strnad likens to Megadeth, or "Matriarch", described by Eschbach as a "wild, neoclassical romp" and stands as one of the most cutthroat and all out aggressive tracks in the quintet's arsenal. Upon first hearing the latter, Strnad was intent on matching its visceral intensity. "I felt inspired to write very violent lyrics to it. It's told from the perspective of a woman who is trying to have a child and not having any luck, and she goes kind of crazy and stalks this other woman who is due to have a child. She finds her moment to take it from her, cutting it right out of her stomach." While Strnad explores a variety of themes and ideas with his lyrics, they are united by the album's title, which embraces a tenet that has been central to The Black Dahlia Murder's output since the very beginning. "Death metal and nighttime are synonymous to me. We are the rulers of the darkened hours that the Christian good fears. A lot of archaic ideas that are still upheld - such as marriage and monogamy - came from Christianity, whether people want to acknowledge it or not, and to me, death metal has always been bucking that. It's 'being-the-villain music', because we're the enemy of Christianity, the enemy of all that is good and traditional. Death metal is for free thinkers, it's for showing people the path to inner strength and operating on your own will, instead of being told what to do and living in fear, and songs like the title track and 'Kings Of The Nightworld' are about leading a legion of awakened minds into battle." Following this theme also motivated Strnad to forge into ever-darker territory, even when this meant tearing things up and starting over. "I felt I needed to rise to the occasion to make as much of the blood and guts and heinousness as possible, and there was actually a couple of points where I rewrotethe blood and guts and heinousness as possible, and there was actually a couple of points where I rewrote some songs. I just didn't feel like they were dark enough, or violent enough, so I was really trying to ramp up the monstrous aspects of things - the grizzlier the better!
Rather than decamp to a single studio, the members split off when it came time to start laying down the songs - all well versed in how to get the best out of their individual performances. With former bassist Ryan Williams once again assisting, the drums were tracked at The Pipe Yard in Plymouth, Michigan and rhythm guitars and bass in the band's practice space in Warren, Michigan. Ellis then recorded his many blistering solos in his home studio, while Strnad opted to record at his home in Auburn Hills, Michigan with Joe Cincotta (Suffocation, Internal Bleeding) of Full Force Studios overseeing his sessions. For the unique and haunting cover art they turned to Kristian Wahlin, aka Necrolord, who has designed seminal artwork forthe likes of At The Gates, Bathory, Emperor and also TBDM's 2007 release, Nocturnal.
"I think he's the most prominent artist when it comes to classic releases in the melodic death metal genre, and kind ofbringing things full circle with it being the ten - year anniversary of 'Nocturnal' felt right. By now people probably wouldn't have expected us to go back to him, so it's kind of a surprise, but at the same time it's a very classic cover too." With the band celebrating the 10 - year anniversary of the aforementioned album by playing it in its entirety on Summer Slaughter, it has given them a moment to reflect not only on the road that has led them to here but also that which lies ahead. "When I think back to when we started the band, I feel very proud of everything we've done, and I also see a lot of improvement over the years," says Strnad. "In the early songs, I can hear us as kids, and then segueing into our adulthood as musicians and writers, but sixteen years in, I still feel young as a band. I feel like we have a shit ton left to do, and I think we're sitting pretty with the best lineup we've ever had. I also think 'Nightbringers' could be our finest hour yet. I feel very strongly that it will affect people, I want to get all of these songs in people's ears, and I want them to check out everything we've got on this record. There's so much variety and so many great ideas, and I think that this could take us to another place."
Thrash metal band Alien Weaponry are “one of the most exciting young metal bands in the world right now” according to Revolver Magazine in the USA. And they’re not the only ones who thinks so. Since they released their debut album ‘Tū’ on 1 June 2018, fans, bloggers, the music industry and the media worldwide have raved about Alien Weaponry’s unique blend of thrash metal and their native language, Te Reo Māori.
In the first three weeks after its release, ‘Tū’ had over a million streams on Spotify, and has been listed among the top albums of 2018 by musical institutions including Revolver, Loudwire, Metal Hammer and many others. Three months after the album was released, Napalm Records had to produce more CDs after selling out of the first run.
The single ‘Kai Tangata,’ released in May 2018, has had nearly 1.5 million views on YouTube and spent 3 months from July to September 2018 in the no. 1 slot on the Liquid Metal show’s Devil’s Dozen, broadcast by New York based Sirius FM and syndicated throughout the USA. In June 2018, the video for Kai Tangata was the ‘Most Added Metal Song’ on US Cable Channel Music Choice (delivering to 50 million households).
The band has been touring Australia and Europe since early July 2018, where they have sold out venues and attracted record numbers to stages at Wacken Open Air (Germany), MetalDays (Slovenia), Bloodstock (UK) and other festivals.
In their home country, New Zealand, the three teenagers from the tiny town of Waipu in Northland won the prestigious APRA Maioha award for their song ‘Raupatu’ (a no punches pulled commentary on the 1863 act of parliament that allowed the colonial government to confiscate vast areas of land from the indigenous Māori people); and are finalists in six categories at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards.
The de Jong brothers (lead singer/guitarist Lewis, 16; and drummer Henry, 18) are of Ngati Pikiāo and Ngati Raukawa (Māori tribal) descent; and began their schooling at a kura kaupapa Māori (full immersion Māori language school). While singing waiata and performing haka were a daily routine there, also ingrained in their early learning were stories of New Zealand history told to them by their father – giving rise to songs like ‘Raupatu’, ‘Urutaa’ (about an early Māori-European contact incident which resulted in an outbreak of sickness; and the subsequent revenge – the burning of the ship The Boyd and the massacre of its crew); and ‘Rū Ana te Whenua’ (which tells the story of the mighty battle at Pukehinahina/Gate Pa in 1864 where their ancestor, Te Ahoaho, lost his life).
The band’s English language material is equally hard-hitting, with songs like ‘Rage,’ ‘Holding My Breath,’ ‘Hypocrite,’ and ‘PC Bro’ addressing everything from a schoolyard punch-up to teenage mental health issues, and the hypocrisy of teachers, the media and reality TV shows alike.
“We listened to all sorts of music when we were younger,” says Lewis, “but we were drawn to thrash metal because it’s quite complex music, and it is a great vehicle for expressing real stories and emotions.”
“It also works with Te Reo Māori,” adds Henry. “Both the musical style and the messages have a lot of similarities with haka, which is often brutal, angry and about stories of great courage or loss.”
Early musical influences included Metallica, Anthrax, Rage Against the Machine and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers; with current favourites including Lamb of God, System of a Down, Gojira and Trivium. The brothers wrote their first song together when they were 8 and 10 years old and the band’s name was also decided then – inspired by the movie District 9.
Bass player Ethan Trembath (16) met Lewis while they were honing their unicycling skills at the local circus school in Waipu, where the de Jong brothers moved to in 2012. He scored the job in Alien Weaponry because he could play the ukulele and (at age 10) he was the first one of their friends who could reach the end of the bass guitar. Now, he is the world’s youngest and New Zealand’s only Spector bass endorsed artist.
Black Label Society ft. The Black Dahlia Murder + Alien Weaponry
Mon Sep 23 2019 6:30 PM Doors