Music at the Crossroads: Black Label Society swings through Houston on North American tour


June 24, 2010 at 1:24 a.m.

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez

Zakk Wylde's signature guitars look more like mind control devices than musical instruments.

The graphic Gibson uses on Wylde's custom guitars is actually known as a bulls-eye, but any time Wylde's onstage, you run the risk of falling into hypnosis.

The pre-eminent rocker and his band, Black Label Society, are bringing their mind-warping brand of heavy metal to Houston in October.

Wylde is most famous for playing lead guitar for Ozzy Osbourne, but the shredding virtuoso has carved his own niche with Black Label Society since 1999.

While his work with Black Label Society compares in style to Ozzy's solo material, Wylde - almost 20 years Ozzy's junior - certainly boasts a more vibrant live performance.

Much like Ozzy - who has softened up in his old age, dueting in a nauseatingly Halmark-y pop ditty with his daughter, Kelly - Wylde and his bandmates show their classic heavy metal sensibilities while also showing no fear of a soulful rock-ballad, piano chords and all.

It's been ages since the glory days of metal. Largely, the metal titans of yesteryear have produced major flops in the 21st century, except for maybe Metallica's last album, "Death Magnetic," over which many critics raved.

But Wylde and his bunch have produced many studio records over the years and, unlike their many heavy metal counterparts, Black Label Society's stuff keeps your attention and doesn't pierce your eardrums.

Plus, in this day and age, the heavy metal subgenre has built up such a fine legacy in rock 'n' roll, you might feel inclined to bring the family. And Black Label Society isn't quite as hardcore as some of its trash and death metal contemporaries, so bring Grandma along, too. Unless, of course, she's the type to complain when the garage band next door plays that "lousy racket."

Black Label Society kicks off its tour Aug. 18 in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Black Label Society, Oct. 28, Verizon Wireless Theater, Houston. Tickets on sale Friday, June 25 at 10 a.m. on, $33.



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