- Personnel: Zakk Wylde (vocals, guitar).
- Audio Mixers: Howard Albert; Ron Albert; Zakk Wylde.
- Around the late '90s/early 21st century, the traditional guitar solo in hard rock/heavy metal appeared to be a dying beast, as most bands were rejecting six-string leads in favor of focusing solely on detuned riffage (culminating a few years later with Metallica's sonic stinkbomb, St. Anger). But one early sign that the tide was changing was the arrival of the Zakk Wylde-led project Black Label Society, and their 1999 debut, Sonic Brew. Expectedly, the group is all about the almighty guitar -- loud 'n' proud riffs and solos abound -- while Wylde himself handles the vocal duties (and can alternate his voice between a more melodic Phil Anselmo on the heavier material, and a Southern rocker on the acoustic fare). The majority of the album's style is basically summed up with the opening track, "Bored to Tears," with a few detours along the way (such as acoustic guitar shredfest "T.A.Z.," and the Lynyrd Skynyrd-like ballad "Spoke in the Wheel"). With the arrival of Sonic Brew, a whole new era of guitarists practicing their speed and scales in their bedrooms would soon be ushered in. ~ Greg Prato
Q (9/99, p.117) - 3 stars (out of 5) - "...the liveliness of the guitars ensures that Black Label Society don't fit too snugly into the stereotypical stoner pigeonhole, while the diversity...prevents the album from being too homogenous. A move in the right direction."