Today, top-seeded Bison B.C. goes up against Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society. This was another great match-up, pitting two enjoyable albums against each other. Bison B.C. starts the fighting with their third album, "Dark Ages," and immediately earns extra style points for opening with a King Crimson-esque dirge, before settling into the band's brand of sludge. Extra points, too, for perhaps my favorite track name of the year: "Two-Day Booze." But the core of the music itself is the draw, at times sounding more like old Clutch or something from the Middle East than the oft-mentioned Mastodon.
Compare that to the simple pleasures of Label Society's latest album. Let me just say that the greatest thing about Zakk Wylde (aside from his ridiculous shredding chops) is his singing, which at its most soulful sounds like a cross between a detuned W. Axl Rose and an alternate-universe Ozzy Osbourne in which Ozzy can actually sing. And by "greatest," of course I mean "most distracting." I kid. Of course, you just cannot take the swagger away from BLS. "Order Of The Black" is all Danzig-style testosterone, even at crooning moments like the power-metal ballads "Time Waits For No One" and "Shallow Grave". Limited field tests failed to find anyone who could listen to this album without nodding their heads and scowling for no good reason whatsoever. And I liked that.
But, end of the day, I liked Bison B.C. more, and here's a big part of the reason why: repeat listens. Once you've made it through BLS the first time, you pretty much know the whole landscape. Not true of "Dark Ages". That album is eminently listenable, all the way through, listen after listen. So Bison B.C. go forth, and will take on Atheist in our Round Of 16. Meanwhile, Blind Guardian takes on Dark Tranquility tomoorrow. Man, I love metal band names, don't you?