After being voted the most anticipated metal album for this year in Rolling Stone magazine, Zakk Wylde has now released his solo album Book of Shadows II. Known for his magnificent guitar work in Ozzy Osbournes band and more recently Black Label Society, his guitar skills definitely do not go to waste with a solo on every track, although the overall vibe may be surprising. For those familiar with the sound of Black Label Society which is often heavy with a good tempo and a good grunt to the vocals, Wylde’s solo album reflects a different . Instead, the album consists more of a stripped back sound with an acoustic guitar and soulful organ vibes filling in the background. This album shows another side to Zakk Wylde which may not always be expected.
With an overall slow tempo for the majority of the songs the album gives off a brooding rock come country vibe. The tone of the songs becomes very open especially with a voice like Wylde’s which almost sounds like it doesn’t belong with the mood because the edge that it can have can come across blurred. However this adds to the melancholic nature of the album like in ‘Tears of December’.
Naturally expressing the talent Wylde posses on the guitar, there isn’t one song which doesn’t contain a solo which are executed in different ways. There seems to be two main styles, one which is rooted down in the deep blues with slow harmonics and scrunching chords; the other a technique taken from some work with Black Label Society with scalic shredding but slowed down which doesn’t make it any less impressive like in ‘Darkest Hour’.
Although the tracks on the album are similar in style and structure, ‘Lost Prayer’ breaks the mold of a slow tempo and painful words. Instead of words blurring into the next, Wylde adopts a more edgier tone to his voice becoming gruffer when hitting higher notes which compliments the higher tempo and blues orientated opening riff.
The musicianship of this album is very good with the obvious strength being the guitar work, however the style for each song is very similar and can seem to drag. The poetic setting of the words is very strong but a little more variation like in ‘Lost Prayer’ would not have gone a miss.