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Live Review: Black Label Society, Corrosion of Conformity, and Eyehategod at Old National Centre

Black Label Society, Corrosion of Conformity, and Eyehategod is the kind of bill that I bet would’ve been godlike to see circa 2003. But while the bands’ sets were heavy on old favorites, Zakk Wylde’s vehicle and COC are releasing new albums in January, and Eyehategod is back fighting after frontman Mike IX’s recent illness. Their stop in Indianapolis wasn’t a nostalgia trip, especially due to the significantly number of young people in attendance, but i still got the sludge metal warm and fuzzies.

Having seen Eyehategod when they performed at the 5th Quarter a couple years back, it felt weird as hell for them to play in a large theater like the Old National Centre. They’re the kind of band that screams dive bar where drunk spectators are cramped like sardines and bodily harm is guaranteed. While I would’ve appreciated a more aggressive setlist, the band members sounded tight and were great when they found their groove. They didn’t blow anybody off stage, but they were a welcome addition.

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I also saw Corrosion of Conformity before when they opened for Clutch in 2015, but I hadn’t been as familiar with their material then. The obligatory “Vote with a Bullet” brought in some speed, but there was a greater emphasis on the band’s slow burns than anything else. The chemistry was excellent and the mix was explosive enough to make even the songs from America’s Volume Dealer sound monstrous. It’s a shame that the timing of the new album’s release meant that it wasn’t spotlighted as much as the band’s old staples, but that’s nothing a headlining tour couldn’t fix. The crowd chant at the end of their set leads me to believe that they’d be welcomed back enthusiastically.

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I’m not gonna lie – I expected the crowd to thin out when Black Label Society was setting up. I can’t tell if that’s the underground taste of my personal friends talking or me not understanding how mainstream metal fans work. Either way, there was an enthusiastic crowd waiting in the wings once the odd “Whole Lotta Love/War Pigs” mashup finished playing and the barrier concealing the stage was lifted.

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Say what you will about Black Label Society’s somewhat inconsistent and endless pitch harmonics, but they kicked ass live. The band is a well oiled machine, and Zakk played the frontman with as much enthusiasm and lovable self indulgence as one would expect. They also got plenty of rock star moments as Zakk introduced his bandmates in roasting fashion and walked through the crowd during an extended solo. The music also conveyed a rawness that isn’t as palpable in their recent studio outings, and while I could nitpick the vocals, it was nice to hear him without the questionable effects that Zakk’s been placing on them lately. I’ll see how I feel when Grimmest Hits is out later this month, but Black Label Society has definitely earned its keep when it comes to their gigs.

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