As much as the worlds of rock and metal are broadly in agreement that Zakk Wylde is a good thing, there have often been rumblings about his odd decision, around the time of Black Label Society’s classic album The Blessed Hellride, to start singing like an ultra-nasal, underwater Ozzy.
As a result, the first thing that Book Of Shadows II demonstrates is that he’s remembered how to croon properly again, and it’s a wonderful, soulful thing to behold.
The breezy, predominantly acoustic backdrop certainly helps: in essence, these are melancholy campfire songs dealing with life, love and loss, and their execution could hardly be more elegant or tasteful.
Black Label diehards may bemoan the lack of turbo-driven crunch and endless widdling, but there’s something far more believable and emotionally affecting about folksy hymns like Autumn Changes and Darkest Hour. He’s back, he’s all grown up and he’s never sounded better.