With nine albums issued rapid-fire style over an eight-year span (1999 to 2006), the time was certainly right for a Black Label Society compilation. And in 2009, it arrived in the form of the CD/DVD double-disc, Skullage. Included are standouts from all of the Black Label Society releases, as well as a tune each from Zakk Wylde's pre-BLS projects, Pride & Glory, and his 1996 solo album, Book of Shadows, plus live tracks. Throughout it all, Skullage certainly shows off the six-string talents of the Wylde one, especially on such BLS favorites as "Doomsday Jesus" and "Suicide Messiah," as well as "Stillborn" (which features vocals from none other than Ozzy Osbourne), and the mellow sounds of "Won't Find It Here." Add to it a DVD of video clips and live performances, and you have both the perfect career overview for the longtime Wylde devotee, and a solid introduction for the new fan.
Shot to Hell marks Black Label Society's debut for Roadrunner Records, following a six-year relationship with Spitfire summarized on the previous year's Kings of Damnation: Era 1998-2004 compilation. Shot to Hell may mark a new era for Zakk Wylde and company, yet not much has changed artistically, no doubt to the relief of fans. Over the course of 13 songs, the band showcases impressive musicianship, incorporating occasional moodiness and balladic touches into its otherwise charging style of metal. The usual comparisons to Alice in Chains, Pantera, and Corrosion of Conformity are as apt as ever, with Wylde's vocals especially reminiscent of AIC. The album-opening "Concrete Jungle" is an instant highlight, kicking off the album in high fashion, while the piano ballad "The Last Goodbye" is another, highlighting Wylde's songwriting talent, as is "Nothing's the Same," another mellow song. While Shot to Hell offers nothing that past Black Label Society releases haven't, and nothing revelatory enough to convince those so far unconvinced of the band's continuing worth, anyone interested in more of the band's consistent output from year to year should find plenty to enjoy here.