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Heavy Hitters: Korn, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne + Motorhead, Black Label Society

Paul Gargano takes a walk on the dark side

Feeling lucky, punk? I’m not. That said, I recently returned from a midweek trip to Las Vegas and actually came home with more money than I left with – so in honor of this being my 13th edition of Heavy Hitters, and 13 being black on a roulette wheel, I’m eschewing the folly of good fortune and instead embracing the darkness with four albums that make my sinister side smile...

KORN Korn

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It’s been nearly 30 years since Korn dropped this sonic assault on our unsuspecting senses, and time has done nothing but sharpen its rough edges and manic drops. From the balls-in-a-vice grip of opening track “Blind,” to the ominous bagpipes and black mask of “Shoots and Ladders,” through the dark depravity of closer “Daddy,” this album changed the scope of metal and did as much to mutate heavy music as any other album of the last several decades. It’s actually remarkable how ahead of their time Korn really were, the lyrics on this game-changing debut reading like a dissertation on life in the dark dystopia that, for better or worse, has shaped America in the 21st century. Are you ready? This two-disc, 180 gram vinyl package is all the reason you need to rediscover the shadows that haunt one of metal’s most acerbic albums.

BLACK SABBATH Mob Rules

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When I got this album as a teenager, it sent shivers down my spine and kept me awake at night. Metal was dangerous back then, and no band was more dangerous to a Catholic kid from Connecticut than Black Sabbath. Before the internet, the rumors were that you could read the words “Kill Ozzy” in the blood that stained the floor of the album cover. And back then, everything about Mob Rules was scarier than any horror movie. “Sign of the Southern Cross” put frontman Ronnie James Dio on full display, his vocals transforming from angelic to downright demonic, but my favorite remains the Rush-like “E5150” bleeding into “Mob Rules,” an epic coupling that simultaneously terrifies and electrifies. This two-vinyl set features the remastered Mob Rules, B-sides and 1981 live rarities recorded on New Year’s Eve in London.

OZZY OSBOURNE + MOTORHEAD “Hellraiser” 10-inch single

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No vinyl collection is complete without those pieces that make friends stop and say, “Holy shit, where did you get that?” And this 10-inch masterpiece is one such item. Co-written by Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy Kilmister and Zakk Wylde, “Hellraiser” was recorded by Ozzy on No More Tears in 1991, then by Motorhead on March Or Die in 1992 - and then it was transformed into this stellar remix in 2021. The 30th Anniversary reimagination of Ozzy and Lemmy’s collaboration was engineered by Rob Kinelski of Grammy Award-winning Billie Eilish fame, and features both British bad-asses’ versions seamlessly mixed into one of the coolest duets this side of the dark side. The remix is on Side One, the two original releases are on Side Two, and both Ozzy and Lemmy are flipping us off on the cover, making this one of the coolest pieces of vinyl that will ever grace any of our turntables.

BLACK LABEL SOCIETY Stronger Than Death

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Released in 2000, Stronger Than Death was just as much a mantra for Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society as it was their sophomore release, defining an attitude that would come to earmark a band that had little time for subtlety or civility. Pantera influence abounds, from the stomp of “13 Years of Grief” to the more “Cemetery Gates”-inspired southern fusion of “Rust,” and this album is Zakk finding his solo footing while embracing a tenacity that would become his trademark on songs like opener “All For You,” “Superterrorizer” and “Counterfeit God.” A little bit of trivia? Wyde recorded every instrument on the album except for drums, but did call on one friend to pinch hit – 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Mike Piazza lends his metal growls to the title track.