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This week Black Label Society’s second studio album turns 18!

For Black Label Society’s sophomore effort, Stronger Than Death, originally released in the US on April 18 in 2000, Zakk Wylde takes the band in a much heavier direction, developing the sound that everyone associates with BLS today. On this album Zakk shed the few remaining Southern rock elements that were heard on the previous Sonic Brew album (which were undoubtedly left over from his Pride & Glory days). The riffs were meaty and the solos were furious! Stronger Than Death provided a firm confirmation that Black Label Society would be sticking closely to the guitar-heavy game plan from here on out. Also at this time there was only one other full-fledged member of the band, drummer Phil “Philth” Ondich, Zakk performed all vocals, guitars, bass and piano.

“All for You” is the opening track on Stronger Than Death, Black Label Society’s second studio album initially released in Japan on March 7, 2000 with 11 tracks and in a blood red jewel case. That original version included the Japanese only bonus track, “Bullet Inside Your Head”. The album was eventually released outside of Japan almost one month and a half later with only 10 tracks and in clear jewel case. And as a side note the overall imagery of the band that we know and love today, the very distinctive BLS skull logo (was taken from drummer Phil Ondichs original illustrations)

“Counterfeit God” is a single by Black Label Society, featured on their 2000 studio album Stronger Than Death. It is about televangelists, much like the earlier Ozzy song “Miracle Man”, which Zakk co-wrote, that dealt with the hypocrisy of Jimmy Swaggart. In a 2000 interview, Wylde (who is a Catholic) said, “I saw a TV evangelist. This guy sells out arenas, and he touches people on the head, and they’re supposed to be blind, and then they’re not blind anymore. That’s the biggest backstabbing version of God I’ve ever seen… Anton LaVey’s got nothing over this guy. That’s pure Satanism to me. He’s backstabbing God so bad it’s not even funny. People are paying money for that, and believe in that. How the hell are they believing it? This guy’s playing God. To me, it’s pure blasphemy.”

The music video features actor Mark Wahlberg as a stand-in for the band’s bassist, because they didn’t have one at the time. Marky Mark became friends with Zakk while working together on the movie Rock Star, where they both played members of the fictional rock band Steel Dragon! On a another side note, the album also contains a vocal cameo from longtime Zakk friend, New York Mets slugger Mike Piazza. He performs the “death growl” on the title track.

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