Nearly 20 years after the release of his solo debut, Book Of Shadows, Ozzy Osbourne’s flaxen-haired, bench-pressing ingénue returns with a second instalment of Southern rock balladry and misty-eyed, staring-wistfully-out-the-window-on-a-rainy-day regret.
Although Zakk has forged an iron-plated legacy as one of metal’s foremost shredders, the Black Label Society frontman has long indulged his inner Gregg Allman, not only on the original Book Of Shadows, but in his old Pride & Glory project, on his Unblackened tour and even on the last BLS release, Catacombs Of The Black Vatican, which included the instant Southern rock classic, Scars.
Book Of Shadows II brings more of the same with a fresh canon of bourbon-soaked tear-jerkers, generously layered with lush acoustic texturing and jangly piano-driven tempos, showcased on tracks like Darkest Hour, Tears Of December and opener Autumn Changes, whose intro offers an astonishingly overt homage to Pearl Jam’s Black. The album lacks balance, however – the spirit of Southern rock lingers in the tension between defiance and vulnerability, the latter playing out in groove-powered, shit-kicking belters and the former appearing as ballads.
Book Of Shadows II features ballads only, and while evident compositional variety separates the tracks, those differences are measured in inches. Nonetheless, if you’ve got no plans to get over an exquisitely painful breakup anytime soon, here’s your new favourite album.