Photographs by Randall Vasquez.

I brought a girl to this show. A girl, yeah. To a metal show. I know. What sort of a person am I, right? Who takes a girl to a metal show?

But from that opening mix of War Pigs and Whole Lotta Love, she was into it. It was theatrical, and passionate, and heavy. It was so goddamn heavy.

And then this Viking demi-god emerged onto the stage; this Viking demi-god named Zakk Wylde. And behind him stood his brothers-in-arms, the Black Label Society. And with a backdrop of skulls and smoke and full, melodic metal, those four Vikings from another age captivated and commanded at the Kool Haus, like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse might have, had they fronted a metal band of their own. 

 And then she couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.

Zakk Wylde stood on the edge of the stage and beat his chest and pumped his fist, and raised that signature guitar of his up in the air like he was offering it up to the Metal Gods themselves. And from beneath the sounds of thunder and fire created through drum and bass and steely electric guitar, Zakk’s voice, which seemed to echo and fill the room like he sang from atop a mountain, just gave you a feeling like you really were seeing something from a time before time. And it was awesome.

After a blistering, face-melting, twenty minute guitar solo, Black Label Society slowed the show down. Zakk sat behind a keyboard and two images of ‘Dimebag’ Darryl were unfurled over the skulls which had held their place previously, and the band played ‘In This River,’ a song Zakk wrote about the passing of his childhood friend and former Pantera guitarist. I personally really like that Black Label Society have it in them musically to go there. So many metal bands, or even just rock bands, thrash through sets without ever going to anything acoustic or melodic like that. And you can tell that that song comes from a really personal place, which just adds to the experience of seeing it performed live. Lighters were raised.

Black Label Society’s 2014 release, ‘Catacombs of the Black Vatican,’ is a really great album. Singles ‘My Dying Time’ and ‘Angel of Mercy’ show the band’s range from heavy, melodic metal to acoustic ballad. The Toronto chapter of the Black Label Society salute you.

“I’m completely deaf now, but that was awesome,” she said, as we left.