Black Label Society, The Cult land at Knitting Factory
Rock ’n’ roll heavyweights perform separate shows next week
A couple of heavy rock-and-roll hitters are coming through town next week, both with new albums in tow:
Black Label Society
The last year has been a wild one for Black Label Society’s famed frontman.
In the past 12 months, guitar legend Zakk Wylde has sobered up, survived deadly blood clots and severed ties with longtime mentor/collaborator Ozzy Osbourne, all punctuated by a new record released last month.
Wylde has had a rough run of health issues, starting a couple of years ago when he was forced to cancel a series of shows to have throat surgery to remove a polyp on his vocal cords.
Shortly after recovering, he suffered an umbilical hernia from too much heavy lifting. Wylde ended a 20-year drinking binge last year when doctors warned him of severe liver and pancreas damage.
His most recent health scare involved nearly lethal blood clots. Black Label Society had to cancel dates on last summer’s Pedal to the Metal Tour while Wylde was hospitalized for treatment in hopes of preventing an embolism.
Wylde closed out 2009 with the unceremonious split with Osbourne – his musical inspiration since his teens – ending their two decades of making music together when Osbourne suddenly fired him.
He weathered the turbulence by channeling his energy into his band’s latest album, “Order of the Black,” released last month on E1 Music. It’s filled with classic metal riffage framed against funky grooves and elements of Southern rock.
Among the album’s highlights are a couple of standout ballads and lighter jams, including moments when Wylde switches out his trademark guitar to lead on piano. The acoustic-based “January” recalls Lynryd Skynryd, and “Shallow Grave” contains subtle indie and pop dynamics.
But Wylde ultimately stays true to his roots on “Order of the Black,” with plenty of rockers that are as big and burly as his beard.
After parting ways in 2008 with metal mainstay label Roadrunner Records, The Cult is striking back with a multimedia assault.
The band is planning a series of “Capsule” EPs in four-song blasts, starting with “Capsule One,” released Tuesday.
Coming out on the band’s own Wilderness Records label, the “Capsule” series is the result of a partnership between The Cult and pioneering music technology company Aderra Media Technologies, which specializes in recording live events directly to USB flash drives.
“Capsule One” comes on the heels of the British quintet’s long-awaited and internationally sold-out Love Live Tour, coinciding with the remastered classic “Love Album” last year.
Aderra recorded several of the live shows, including a sold-out appearance at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The band sold exclusive recordings of the shows on flash drives strung on dog-tag necklaces.
The “Capsule One” package includes two new songs along with live recordings from the tour and a short film, “Prelude to Ruins,” co-directed by vocalist Ian Astbury. The album is available in several formats, including mp3, dual disc CD/DVD and limited-edition 12-inch vinyl.
In an interview with UK radio station Planet Rock, guitarist Billy Duffy said the band is using technology to find a more fluid alternative to releasing music in the traditional way. The fact that there aren’t many record shops anymore is indicative of changing listening habits, he said.
“I think people’s attention spans are shortening. … (We) just wanted to capture the music quickly and get it our there,” Duffy said.
“The people who are buying tangible, what you’d call hard products, like vinyl, they’re collectors and they want stuff that has a little bit more depth and content, and that’s why it’ll be a multimedia package.”