Whenever there’s a curtain over stage, you can usually expect something pretty epic to be revealed when that curtain drops. Sunday was no disappointment, as Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” engulfed the room and lights began to flash and display silhouette outlines of Black Label Society behind the curtain before falling and uncovering Zakk Wylde perched at his skull covered microphone throne against a backdrop of stacked Marshall amps. The guitar god has been nationally recognized for his success and contributions to the music industry, notably as Ozzy Osbourne’s former right-hand man before forming Black Label Society in 1998.
If the crowd at The Fillmore in Charlotte wasn’t sold out, it was damn close to it, crammed from front to back with fans in leather jackets and Black Label Society patches. From the moment the band surged into “The Beginning… At Last,” the frenzied crowd didn’t waste a second to break into ferocious headbanging that ensued from set start to finish. The volume was cranked to eleven; you could feel the bass surging through your body amid stupefying guitar riffs and hammering drums. This was the absolute epitome of everything a metal show should be.
On stage, Zakk is accompanied by only one other remaining original member, John DeServio. John, while being a heavy metal badass, also manages to bring a bit of charm to the stage, as he constantly flashes a candid smile while pounding away at his bass. On the opposite side, Dario Lorina follows Zakk’s lead, hanging largely behind his hair as he whirrs away through guitar rhythms. Even though Dario has only been part of Black Label Society since early last year, the newest member Jeff Fabb occupies the drum kit risen between amp stacks. Though he’s new to the band, he is certainly not new to the scene, having played previously alongside In This Moment, American Idol finalist James Durbin, and Filter.
Midway through the set, Zakk commanded the center stage through a powerful, lengthy solo, appropriate for a guitarist with so much speed and talent to showcase. The solo morphed into “Godspeed Hell Bound,” as the rest of the band returned on stage. Minutes later, Zakk revealed a dual talent, performing the heartwrenchingly beautiful opening piano medley of “In This River” in memory of close friend Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott. Black Label Society closed out the evening with a triple onslaught of “The Blessed Hellride,” “Concrete Jungle” and “Stillborn.”
Butcher Babies and Hatebreed opened the evening with short but heavy sets that got the crowd amply riled up for Black Label Society. Both bands will be returning to Charlotte for Carolina Rebellion in May, this year. Meanwhile, Black Label Society is preparing to set off on ShipRocked Cruise, then a UK/European tour throughout February and March.