As the successor to 1996’s Book of Shadows, it’s hard to fathom that merely twenty years has passed. Upon its April 8th release, enter Zakk Wylde’s Book of Shadows II. As it not only lives up to the timeless original, but further delivers a soulful, folk & blues-driven acoustic sound with lyrical undertones of life, love and sorrow. With hits like “Sleeping Dogs,” “Autumn Changes” and “Tears of December,” it’s evident that Wylde fosters a soundscape heavily inspired of Elton John, The Allman Bros., Led Zeppelin, Government Mule & Mountain, to name a few.
With such musical influences fueling his overall song-writing style, Wylde once again delivers his signature southern drawl-like vocals, subtle, yet powerful organs and flange-driven acoustic guitar work on Book of Shadows II. And as for all you shredders out there, don’t fret (no pun intended, hardy har, har) as there’s plenty of pentatonic technicality, vibrato and melody to be heard and appreciated on this record. Just don’t anticipate as much extended soloing or pinch harmonics and you won’t be disappointed. Then again, for long-time followers of the Les Paul, bulls-eye’d berserker, those reading this already know what to expect.
As BOS II packs 14 solid, well-written songs, Wylde takes you on a rustic journey of self-reflection from beginning to end. It’s interesting to behold such profound cover art, which appears to portray the evolution of life and death as Book of Shadows exhibits two crying babies to that of Book of Shadows II with two BLS skulls hanging from a tree.
Given its acoustic, low-key theme and direction, this record will most likely appeal to a wider demographic and rock listenership. That’s right all you ‘Grungeheads,’ even grandma is likely to appreciate the bearded Berzerker’s melodious masterpiece.
From his early days in Stone Henge, Zyris and Pride & Glory to his work with Ozzy Osbourne and foremost, Black Label Society, Jeffrey Phillip Wielandt AKA Zakk Wylde may be a New Jersey native, but he will forever bleed a southern heart and soul. Whether you’re just a casual fan or a hardcore SDMF’N, beer-drinkin’, vest-wearin’ BLS Doom Trooper, you’d be hard-pressed to deny the impact Zakk Wylde has earned himself within the world of hard rock and heavy metal.
Who would’ve thought that upon sending Ozzy Osbourne a demo tape in 1987, Wylde would end up replacing guitar virtuosos to the likes of Jake E. Lee, Brad Gillis and of course, the iconic Randy Rhoads. And if his teased-hair 1980’s pictures weren’t indicative enough, his guitar playing certainly spoke volumes that he was a true Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads freak! In all that the purveyor of pinch harmonics has been doing over the past five years alone, I can’t imagine what more he could possibly get involved in.
Constructing and recording in his Black Vatican Recording Studio, leaving Gibson and signing with Schecter..(ahh $hit, did I say that?.. Thanks NAMM 2016.) I meant Wylde Audio. Berzerker hot sauces, signature guitar strings as well as a line of Valhalla Java Odinforce Blend Coffee. A Hollywood Rock Walk of Fame & Guitar World 2012 Rock N’ Roll Roast inductee, his signature book, Bringing Metal To The Children and Wylde has even signed on to perform as part of the Generation Axe Tour this year with Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Nuno Bettencourt and Tosin Abasi. Ladies & Gentlemen, need I say more? Zakk Wylde is a beast and between his proficient lead guitar work to his overall character, the Bullseye Berzerker never ceases to amaze.As head producer for GrungeMetalGraveyard.com (gotta’ love plugs) we are loud, proud supporters of both Black label Society & Zakk Wylde solo. On the basis of album theme and cover art, songwriting ability, lyrical/vocal content, guitar work and overall instrumentation, I, on behalf of The GMG Nation give Book of Shadows II a 10-out-of-10!For all things Grunge. Rock. Metal., LIKE Us via facebook.com/grungemetalgraveyard