Black Label Society: Unblackened

Captain Caveman in mellow(er) mood

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Since the advent of MTV's Unplugged franchise in 1989, performing acoustic sets has become a badge of authenticity for ‘real’ musicians, an opportunity to test the old adage that the truest stadium anthems stand up just as well when performed around a campfire. Unblackened tweaks the format, with a live Black Label Society performance filmed at LA’s Club Nokia in March this year featuring an expanded six-piece lineup and tackling a hits-heavy set in a semi-acoustic format.

Ironically, given Zakk’s undeniable guitar hero status, the most affecting moments come when he sits at a piano for a nakedly emotional Sweet Jesus and In This River, dedicated, as ever, to Dimebag Darrell – but a ceiling-raising House Of Doom and soaring Sold My Soul are equally captivating, not least for Zakk’s astonishing guitar solo on the latter.

Among the bonus features here, a 55-minute mini-documentary on Zakk’s visit to HM Prison Stocken in the Midlands in July 2010 deserves special mention. The frontman’s man-of-the-people status is never more evident than in a thoughtful and articulate Q&A session with inmates, and his humility in performing solo takes on BLS standards is rather sweet.