Black Label Society
Black Label Society is an American heavy metal band formed in Los Angeles, California in 1998 by guitarist/singer Zakk Wylde. To date, the band has released eleven studio albums, two live albums, two compilation albums, one EP, and three video albums.
Sonic Brew and Formation (1998–1999)
In the early 1990s, Wylde had formed his own solo band Pride & Glory, playing a mixture of bluesy Southern rock with heavy metal. However, they disbanded in December 1994 after having released only one album. Wylde subsequently recorded an acoustic solo album, Book of Shadows (1996). In May 1998, after limited commercial success with Book of Shadows, Wylde and drummer Phil Ondich recorded what became Black Label Society’s debut album Sonic Brew. It was decided, rather than the album being another solo album for Wylde, that they would form a long term band. It was known from the start that Nick Catanese would be retained as the second guitarist in the band (Catanese previously toured as rhythm guitarist for the Book of Shadows tour). John DeServio, who previously worked with Wylde as a temporary replacement in Pride & Glory, joined as the band’s bassist for the album’s tour.
Sonic Brew was released in Japan on October 28, 1998. Due to delays in signing with a record label (Spitfire Records), the album was not released in the rest of the world until May 4, 1999.
Line-up changes and subsequent releases (1999–2007)
The band’s second album Stronger Than Death followed in 2000, with DeServio being replaced by Steve Gibb. Craig Nunenmacher replaced Ondich in July 2000, with his debut recording with the band being the live album Alcohol Fueled Brewtality Live +5. This was followed by 1919 Eternal, which was dedicated to Wylde’s father and was released in 2002. Steve Gibb was temporarily replaced by Mike Inez (Alice In Chains) during the Ozzfest 2001 tour, and then Robert Trujillo took over bass duties for the band the next year.
In 2003, Trujillo joined Metallica, leaving the bass position in Black Label Society open, which left room for Inez to rejoin the band for a short two-week tour, supporting the band’s album The Blessed Hellride. James LoMenzo joined the band in 2004 after the release of Hangover Music Vol. VI, which was the band’s last release for Spitfire Records.
On the first four studio albums, Wylde played every instrument, except for the drums, including vocals, guitars, piano, and bass guitar.
In 2005, after the band signed with Artemis Records, the album Mafia was released. In October, LoMenzo left the band (and joined Megadeth a few months later) and was replaced by the band’s original bassist, John DeServio. In 2006, the band left Artemis Records and signed to Roadrunner Records, releasing the album Shot to Hell.
In June 2007, Black Label Society parted ways with Roadrunner Records.
Side bands and lineup changes (2007–present)
Black Label Society in 2010
In July 2007, band members DeServio and Catanese both signaled the start of new bands as Zakk Wylde toured with Ozzy Osbourne. Drummer Craig Nunenmacher left the band in February 2010, and was replaced by Will Hunt (of Dark New Day, Evanescence). Hunt’s first live performance with the band would be on July 24, 2010, at the first edition of the High Voltage Festival in London.
On August 10, 2010, Order of the Black, their eighth studio album, was released. It reached number 4 on the Billboard 200 chart.
In 2011 the band toured in support of their new album. The Black Label Berzerkus tour started in Portland, Oregon, with Children of Bodom and Clutch sharing the main support slot and 2cents opening.
In March 2011, Will Hunt left the band to record with Evanescence, and Danzig drummer Johnny Kelly (formerly of Type O Negative) filled in for him for the rest of the tour, however in May 2011, Mike Froedge of doubleDrive and Catanese’s band Speed X joined the band.
Black Label Society released the compilation album The Song Remains Not the Same on May 3, 2011, via Entertainment One Music. The offering features unplugged versions of material from the album Order of the Black, as well as additional material recorded during the Order of the Black sessions. The Song Remains Not the Same was conceived, created and compiled by Zakk Wylde and the title is a nod to one of Wylde’s favorite bands, Led Zeppelin.
On September 14, 2011, Wylde introduced Breaking Benjamin’s Chad Szeliga as the band’s new drummer.