This album is very good. One of my favourite studio offerings from Zakk Wylde under the Black Label Society name. Like many a good album, having given it a few listens, its really grown on me.
To me it's not as good as Alcohol Fueled Brewtality, where many songs from BLS' first two albums and Ozzy's track "No more tears" are given the treatment they deserve...Live, balls out, two harmonics per bar greatness, generally making an improvement on the studio versions from those albums, where the production can detract a little from what are kick-ass songs.
The production on Mafia however is improved from those earlier efforts, and the sound is different, comparing more to Blessed Hellrise etc. The quality of the song writing is pretty much similar to previous BLS albums, so theres still the standard features... a few well written songs and a lot of kick-ass riffs, solos and squeals! To go along with these BLS staples though, there seems to be a new inventiveness to some songs on Mafia, with talkbox riffs and good piano and minimoog parts actually adding to some songs! Zakk has also found some exremely cool new scales to shred down resulting in some excellent and fresh sounding solos (e.g. Fire it up, Forever Down, Death March). I think I like Zakk's more recent Ozzy influenced vocal style, although he still doesn't sound like Ozzy, and there's no way this sounds like a Sabbath album!
As with most BLS albums theres the occaisional dreaded dip in form (Zakk's been producing one album a year though, with about 14 tracks!), namely "you must be blind" "Too tough to die" and "electric Hellfire" I think!
Overall though, this albums been keeping me pleased for the last few weeks since I stumped up the money to buy it! why not 5 Stars?...You've gotta have a catergory for albums like Black Sabbath, Led Zep II, Allman Brothers live at Fillmore east etc.