Judge Steve Power's stage name should have been Zakk Mild.
Our review of Black Label Society: Skullage, published April 23rd, 2009, is also available.
"Fire it up! Let the engines roll! It's time to burn it down"
Sometime in the mid to late '90s there was a sort of paradigm shift in the Heavy Metal world. Bands like Metallica and Megadeth had been riding high on the thrash wave, following the rule of: "Still not fast enough! Still not loud enough!" until Alternative music came along and drove the heavy stuff back underground, leaving many of the thrash metal giants flailing around like newborns while attempting to hold onto their relevance. A ton of new bands hit the scene around this time, and much of their sound owed more to the hazy hard rock of the '70s. With Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osborne back in vogue, sludgy guitars and droning doomy vocals would permeate much of the metal world. Enter Black Label Society, fronted by on again-off again Ozzy guitarist, Zakk Wylde.
Doom Troopin' Live catches the band at the height of a European tour in 2006, following the release of the critically acclaimed album, Mafia, and features a solid setlist:
"Stoned and Drunk"
As you can tell by the titles, Mr. Wylde is certainly no poet, and decked out in biker gear he looks as though he'd be more comfortable at a ZZ Top show alongside Billy Gibbons. What Zakk does very well however, is shred. He was originally recruited into Ozzy's band for the No Rest for the Wicked album at the tender age of 16, and as one can well imagine, you would have to be one hell of a player to garner that kind of attention. He's only gotten better with age, and his riff writing chops are as solid as anyone else in the metal world. If you're watching this disc for the music, you certainly won't be disappointed. What the songs lack in their "high school gymnasium band" quality lyrics, they more than make up for with tight performances and pure musical skill. This is some groovy metal, more of a foot-stomp swagger than a neck-breaking headbang.
There are two chief problems with the show. For one thing, the band really lacks the charisma to keep things visually interesting. They all just sort of stand around playing instruments, which is fine enough, and Zakk occasionally turns away from the crowd to spit some booze into the air, but there's not much showmanship here. One glance at a Metallica or Iron Maiden show and you'll know why these guys are the largest hard rock acts in the world, but Zakk and company just run through the motions. They definitely sound great, but there isn't much energy on stage. The crowd doesn't seem to care, which is great and all, but watching it at home is a bit of a slog. The second issue is with the production of the video footage. Cheesy video effects are applied constantly, from motion blurs to fisheye distortion and stretching. It's ugly, cheap looking stuff that distracts every time it pops up. It's the sort of crap you might expect from a first-year production student who was just handed the keys to some off-the-shelf production software.
The Blu-ray treatment afforded to Doom Troopin' Live is right on. The 1080i image is sharp, clear, colourful, and appealing, and the DTS Master Audio track fills the room effectively, with lows that really punch the subwoofer. For extras, we're given a selection of Black Label Society music vids, which are decent enough for the low budget affair that they are, and a 50 minute featurette dubbed the "Backstage Pass," which is actually a series of interviews, diary footage and assorted video cobbled together. The interview footage feels contrived, existing to attempt to convince people how much of a hard ass Zakk is, right before you see footage of him weight training with his toddler son. Whether he's a decent guy playing a tough guy, or a tough guy with moments of decency, there's a certain heavy metal charm to his foul-mouthed alcohol fueled mayhem. It's also all presented in decent looking high def.
Also included is a short set from the London stop of their tour, which doesn't differ much from the Paris show that makes up the meat of the feature. If the brand of metal typically associated with Zakk Wylde and company is to your tastes, you will do fine with Doom Troopin' Live. If you're a fan of Black Label Society, it's a must!
Go and sin some more.
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