Zakk Wylde and his Black Label Society brothers are back once again with a brand new live release. Unblackened is another impressive live release from Wylde and company. Whether one has had the pleasure of attending a BLS show live or not, it serves as an excellent example of what audiences get with a live Black Label show. This live recording is something extra special for Black Label fans. It is something extra special first and foremost because unlike with previous live releases, it is being released both on CD and on DVD and Blu-ray. Audiences will appreciate the audio quality from the CD portion of the recording. On a related note, the review for the video (Blu-ray) portion of the recording will come at a later date. The audio mix on the CD was very well balanced, adding to the overall enjoyment. One more reason fans will appreciate this latest release is that also unlike previous live releases, Zakk and his band mates were extremely selective in their set list for this show. All of these factors taken into consideration, they make Unblackened a contender for one of 2013’s best new live recordings.
Unblackened, as noted, is an easy contender to be named one of the year’s best live recordings. It earns this honor first and foremost as it is presented both with an audio and video portion. This is different from previous live Black Label Society releases. Previous live Black Label Society have been put out solely on CD (E.g. Live Brew-tality) or specifically on DVD or Blu-ray as in the live release, Boozed, Bruised, and Broken Boned. This is a rare treat for long-time Black Label Society fans, to be able to take the recording with them anywhere that they want, including their vehicles. Even with the audio and video portion being kept separate from one another, fans receive a treat as it allows audiences to decide which side of the show they want to get. This is good in that maybe a given fan has the DVD or Blu-ray side of the show, but not the CD. The CD could be purchased separate by said fan’s family or friends as a gift for a birthday. Or since the holidays are right around the corner, said fan’s family or friends could purchase the CD as a gift idea without worrying about whether or not said fan already has the audio half of the concert. Sure, it would be just as great to have both the audio and video portion of the show together. But it’s just as good to have them separate. The hypothetical situation noted here is just one example of why this is the case. And it is for this hypothetical situation that Entertainment One’s staffers are to be commended for making the choice to present the show on separate formats.
The ability of fans to choose whether they want to take in Unblackened in its audio or video format or both is a major boon to any Black Label Society fan. It’s just one positive to this new upcoming live recording. In looking solely at the recording’s audio (CD) side, the CD’s audio mix is solid. Believe it or not, there are some cases in which the audio mix of a live recording can turn out to be somewhat muddy to put it politely. This is not one of those cases. Those responsible for mixing the concert for home release did their jobs with expert precision. The end result is a live double-disc CD release that will leave fans wanting the concert’s video side in the best possible way. But alas, that is a review for another day.
The overall presentation of Unblackened is the biggest portion of what makes this live recording a candidate to be one of the year’s best live recordings. The audio mix was finalized expertly on the CD. And the very fact that fans can choose between the CD and DVD or Blu-ray (what BLS fan wouldn’t want both sides of the show?) makes it even more impactful for fans. There is one more factor which fans should consider in this new live release. That final factor is the show’s set list. The set list makes the concert stand out from previous BLS live releases in the fact that it is much more album specific. It pulls a song here and a song there from The Blessed Hellride and Mafia. But the majority of this concert’s set list was pulled from Wylde’s older solo material and from BLS’ acoustic album, Hangover Music Vol. VI. That album in question received mixed reception from both fans and critics alike. Put into a live format as it is here though, many of the songs from that album are given a whole new life. Perhaps after hearing the songs from Hangover Music Vol. VI in a whole new setting, fans that were critical of said album will gain a whole new appreciation for the record. Older tracks such as the show’s opener, ‘Losin’ Your Mind’, ‘Sold My Soul’, ‘Road Back Home’, and ‘Sweet Jesus’ make the concert even more special. That’s because these classics are far less visible on Zakk’s previous live recordings. They show a side of Wylde with which many audiences might not be so familiar. It proves, as Zakk said in one interview years ago, a song can be heavy without being heavy and crunching. Fans that accept this will enjoy every minute of this recording when it is released on September 24th via EOne Music. Fans will be able to purchase the double-disc in stores or order it online via iTunes at http://www.itunes.com/blacklabelsociety. In the meantime, audiences can keep up with all of the latest BLS news on the official BLS Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/blacklabelsociety and its official website, http://www.blacklabelsociety.com.
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