I like Zakk Wylde as much as the next guy, his denim-and-leather-clad, grease-stained, beer-swilling aesthetic always welcome in my house. While I'll probably always prefer albums like "Stronger than Death" and "Sonic Brew" to those released since (with the possible exception of "1919 Eternal"), I can't say that there has been anything Mr. Wylde released that I didn't like. Still, I'm not a worshipper or a Chapter member (damn, that application is complicated), and usually take the BLS medication in small doses, an album's worth tending to be a bit much at times. That's why "Kings of Damnation: 98-04" is such a treat. I get everything I need in one 19-song disc.
Never paying much attention to PRIDE & GLORY or Zakk's "Book of Shadows" album, that "Kings of Damnation…" begins with two tracks from each project is a welcome surprise. The guy is really quite good at this style of acoustic-laced, ALLMAN-esque, bluesy southern rock and each song is a keeper. I might mention that his vocals on "Horse Called War" remind me of Ricky Medlocke (BLACKFOOT, LYNYRD SKYNYRD), and yes, that's a good thing. From there, it's a generous helping of most of the highpoints from each of the BLS studio albums, including "Bleed for Me", "Counterfeit God", "Stillborn" (with guest vocalist Ozzy Osbourne), and "Demise of Sanity". Also included are instrumental acoustic pieces "TAZ", "Speedball", and "Takillya". As an added bonus, two previously unreleased tracks, "Doomsday Inc". and "SDMF" finish off the album, neither spectacular, but still solid BLS material.
What you won't hear is anything from "Mafia", as it comes after Zakk's run with Spitfire. Regardless, "Kings of Damnation: 98-04" is about as definitive of a collection as you're going to get at this point in the man's career. Highly recommended, especially for newcomers and those wanting the best material without having to pick and choose among several BLS albums.