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on May 7, 2014
Okay, so over the years I've put down Zakk Wylde. I complained about that silly sound he makes with his guitar on almost every song. And has done so since his days with Ozzy. Due to a case of boredom, I listened to the samples off of "Catacombs" and couldn't believe that I liked the songs, just from those 20 or 30 seconds. While I was shopping at Target, I seen the album on sale for $7.50 and said, "What the hell." I've been listening to it, over and over, for 4 days now and absolutely LOVE this album. Even though I wish Zakk would knock off that "silly sound", I don't really pay attention to it much while I'm listening.

I have to laugh though at the comments here in Amazon. I'm 55 years old and have been listening to "Heavy" music since I was 12 and my sister turned me on to the first Sabbath album, and people NEVER change! They complain when an artist "Doesn't change and expand their horizons" and they complain when they do change things up and sound a bit different. I've heard it with almost every act.

Also, I've seen some complaints about Zakk's singing. Because I was so narrow minded about BLS, I never paid attention to his voice, but don't see where people can say that he can't sing. I like the way he actually changes his voice to accommodate the mood of the track. I actually like his voice....on the slower tracks I hear kind of a Gregg Allman meets Michael McDonald thing. And I mean that with all respect to Zakk, Gregg and Michael. On the heavy tracks, Zakk sounds like, well, like Zakk. I can't compare him to anyone really. Either way, this is an awesome record. I apologize for not really listening and judging on a whirring guitar note. Now I'm gonna have to go shopping and check out all of the BLS albums that I've turned my nose up over the years.
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on May 4, 2014
It is a great BLS album, do not listen to these people who have issues with some songs, it is solid, heavy and kills in every way !!!! And has some great songs like "scars" which is one of the best songs he has ever written! Zakk is the last of the true rockers! Give it up and support him and his band. I love this record so much...
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on June 10, 2014
As Zakk Wylde has now seperated from Ozzy musically, he has started puting forth more material than Ozzy. As black label has come along in the past 5 years, their albums and releases have taken various turns. "Order of the black" was heavy and a kick in the pants. They changed it up with "the song remains not the same" with two discs of acoustic and live material and some covers. now they come back again and bring back another kick in the pants. One of the reason's floating around about why Zakk and Ozzy parted ways musically (still great friends apparently) is that Ozzy was reporting to have commented that Zakk's new material for him was sounding to much like Black label society, and Ozzy gave him the blessing to move on with these guys. I can hear that in some of his material from black rain and to these past two albums. These albums are hard, yet some of them could have fallen into the Ozzy catalog. Other's though are Completely black label. Good album here, solid material, and have to get the deluxe version, no reason two pass up two songs that are solid and would have been disappointed not to have.
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on May 11, 2014
I remember when I first got into Zakk Wylde listening to Ozzy's No More Tears album, rocking my face off with his blistering riffs and mind blowing solos. Then I got into his solo bands, first is southern rock band Pride and Glory and then is Black Label society band. Black label kept blowing my mind with each release. Sounding like Pantera, Soundgarden, Ozzy, Alice in chains, and a crap load of classic rock wrapped up in one awesome package. So it was right up my alley. So I couldn't wait for the new release Catacombs. It finally comes and I give it a couple of spins. Its good sounding like Black Label but a little mellower. Even the heavy songs sounding mellow. But its a good album but ill keep give it a spin in my car to see if it grows on me. To describe the sound sounding like a cross between (Order of the black, Shot to hell, and hangover music) all wrapped up in one album. But to me it has a real mellow Led Zeppelin or Sabbath vibe which is cool. Recommended for any Black Label fan or Ozzy fan. Still a good album, just a little disappointed but ill see if it grows on me with future listens.
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on August 6, 2014
I really enjoy what the talented Zakk Wylde is doing with his amazing band BLACK LABEL SOCIETY.....Previous great albums like SONIC BREW and STRONGER THAN DEATH already showed that Zakk is way more than a great guitar player.....He can create some great songs, and his vocals are raw and powerful too.....On CATACOMBS OF BLACK VATICAN i hear a mature band, crafted from many years on the road and one of the best METAL singers EVER!!!!! Zakk create a own style that reminds a fusion of other great singers in one....All the songs here are very good, from straight HEAVY METAL to beautiful ballads.....BLACK LABEL SOCIETY is recommended for headbangers all over this lost world!!!!! BRAVO!
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on April 25, 2014
I read a review that commented on Zakk playing too many ballads. What happened to him? Well, maybe he grew and changed and sees the value in heartfelt tunes, perhaps. One of my favorite BLS songs is the ballad "In This River" off of the album "Mafia". That being said, I have also loved that his sound was so consistent and that BLS was the closest incarnation of Black Sabbath. I like his voice, it is not the usual when compared to popular recording artists. Yes, I gave away my age, I am 54 and life does change and rearrange as you grow. Most people expand their horizons and I expect Mr. Wilde is the same. With the exception of "Shot to Hell" I have loved every one of his releases. Maybe "Shot" was done when my own life was too busy for me to really relate. I do not think a person can go wrong with BLS.

s
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on April 8, 2014
The songs where Zakk departs from the BLS formula - and it's very much a formula now - tap his more melodic side. The star attractions here: Empty Promises, Scars, Angel of Mercy and Shades of Gray are all refreshing heartfelt tracks. I don't think it's any accident that these tracks stand out because they require a little more effort from Mr. Wylde who can surely write 5 metal tunes in that many hours of the quality often found here.

Compounding the problem are several production issues that have diminished the quality of the last handful of BLS releases. Every metal track on this recording sounds like it was recorded with the same guitars, the same everything. It's like they just set up the band and plowed through the recording process. It's kind of funny that Zakk makes references to Dali adding different colors as pieces develop (see editorial review), because that's the last thing that happened on many of these tunes.

Zakk has also fallen into the trap of playing too fast on many of the songs and falling back on many of - what are it this point - are cliches of his own style. You could toss many of the solos up into the air on this record and they would fall into place on any of the tunes. They sound like the same riffs reshuffled into different orders. A furious run past the twelfth fret followed by a long bent note accented with wah wah is heard waaaay too often. Of course, there are always jarring moments of creativity like the solo in Heart of Darkness which sounds like an elephant took over the lead halfway through - very inspired and jaw dropping!

Another thing Zakk should break himself of is singing his own harmonies, which are always exactly the same. He's very fond of the Alice In Chains harmony style, and it makes repeated visits on these tunes. But the problem is the harmony vocal is Zakk straining above his range and it just drills into your ear after a while, and many tunes sound more similar than they actually are as a consequence.

This isn't a bad record by any means, it's just that it could be so much better with some input from a real producer. Zakk has been at the wheel for a long time now, and I think he tends to get into a "time to make the donuts" frame of mind which holds his records back from reaching that next level.
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on May 4, 2014
I am a longtime fan of Zakk's work--Book of Shadows and 1919 Eternal are my favorites, but there are many elements of each album in between that I love.

Sure, each album is different, but this one truly is "different", and in a good way.

One thing I noticed immediately is that Zakk pulled back the use his trademark pinch harmonics in comparison to his previous works. It's not a bad thing--just something I noticed, and it doesn't take anything away.

There are some really, really great tunes on this record....My Dying Time is my current favorite; the harmonies are masterful.

Anyone familiar with Book of Shadows and even Hangover Music Vol 4? knows that Zakk is more than capable on the mellower tunes, and for those fans, the real gems on this album might well be Angel of Mercy and Scars which both evoke a feeling of serenity to me.

I've Gone Away has some really heavy guitar work going on...nothing more to say.

Empty Promises resembled what I thought to be an Alice in Chains vibe at first, but then you are quickly reminded it is pure Zakk, and the solo here is not just another blistering solo. To me it's the sonic version of a bull waiting and then blasting through the gate.

To me, this album first took a few listens to set in, but I'm finding that with a lot of different artists.

As a guitar player myself, each of Zakk's albums have become personally addictive to my ears, and this one is already at that point.

No artist is going to make the same album over and over, and I like the direction BLS took with this one.

Mellow in some areas, but still brutal enough to add into the workout mix for the treadmill.

I saw BLS live in 2012 and will see them again this summer. Really looking forward to hearing these new tunes live.

- SDMF -
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on April 13, 2014
Technically, I am giving this a 4.5 star rating, but I gave it the extra .5 to a 5 star.

Catacombs of the Black Vatican, is everything you can expect from a BLS record. I still feel Order of the Black is their best effort to date. However, COTBV isn't far behind. To be honest, I like every song on this record except of "Dying Time." This track lacks musically and vocally for me. Couple of my standout tracks would have to be "Believe, Beyond the Down and Shades of Gray."

For BLS fans, this is a must have!
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on December 28, 2014
Zakk and BLS NEVER let their fans down and this work of perfection is just another example. The live shows are killer - do yourself a favor and see them live they always leave you wanting more. Shout out from the Columbus Ohio Chapter see all the fans on Jan 17th! Buy this CD you will not be disappointed.
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