If You Buy One Album Out This Week, Make It…

Book Of Shadows II

Ozzy Osbourne guitarist, Black Label Society leader…soft rocker?? You’d better believe it, Zakk Wylde’s soft side hath arriveth. Yes essentially it’s always been there, but let’s face it – we may’ve been too distracted by all the bruiser distortion and face-melting licks to notice.

The last time Wylde brought a tear to our eye, it was with laughter at his band’s hilariously terrible cover of Whiter Shade Of Pale (didn’t think Black Label Society and Procol Harum were natural bedfellows? They’re not). Now he’s doing it with an album that blends strains of the Allmans, Neil Young, Eric Clapton and others, creating the perfect forum for the countrified drawl he’s always harboured – underneath the hard rock heft and hair.

Not this is an entirely unplugged affair. Beautiful, heart-bleeding electric solos on Lay Me Down and others err just on the right side of ‘techy’ – his fretboard skills complimenting, not competing with, the song. Tears Of December is sublime. Ditto The Levee, Autumn Changes…. Where’s the ‘rawk’? Where’s the stodge? There is none. Really, it’s all rooted in acoustic prettiness.

If it’s all too much for you, go and play the solo from No More Tears at full-blast afterwards to restore your sense worldly order. In our view, however, it’s brilliant to see this side of Zakk’s musical persona realised so successfully.