REVIEW: ZAKK WYLDE – “Book Of Shadows II”
Zakk Wylde is not the name that needs any introduction. When the Godfather of Heavy Metal Ozzy Osbourne hired Zakk, after first ignoring him first as another Randy Rhodes clone, as a guitarist for his band, everyone soon knew he was not an ordinary player. The man had an aura and spark on stage and in his music back then, which he still has now. Though joining Ozzy Osbourne’s band had its own consequences: when Zakk Wylde started singing, he showed a lot of influences from Ozzy Osbourne’s singing style; which you can still notice in his singing.
What sets a musician’s solo career apart from his band’s career is that: a band is a collaborative effort of all the members. Everyone pitches in the ideas, best ones get selected, everyone works on their respective instruments and music is composed; on the other hand, a solo career is a step a musician takes to pursue a different music than his band, something he can call solely his own, where every minute thing is covered by him. Same as what Ozzy Osbourne did after being excommunicated with Black Sabbath; same as what Blaze Bayley did besides Iron Maiden and same as what Jon Bon Jovi did besides Bon Jovi. But before taking his musical career ahead with his band Black Label Society in 1998, Zakk released a solo album ‘Book Of Shadows’: with James Lomenzo on bass, who later went on to play for Black Label Society for two albums, Megadeth for two album,; David Lee Roth for one album and Tim “Ripper” Owens for one album, along with Joe Vitale on drums in 1996. Then focusing his attention more on his band, Zakk couldn’t get around to release another solo album.
Zakk Wylde’s solo career is a major detour from Black Label Society career: its southern rock composed of a bit of country and guitar solos. The kind of music you would listen to take break from all the chaos of the society, sitting in your (rocking) chair on your porch with a good beer in your hand, relaxing. If you have even slightest of hope that it will be in any way similar to Black Label Society, throw that hope away; it’s not. ‘Book Of Shadows II’ is a step ahead of its prequel. If you see anyone comparing both the albums, pay no heed. Yes, both are southern rock, but they’re different. ‘Book Of Shadows II’ is a step that comes after ‘Book Of Shadows’. You can’t compare your 30-year old self to 15-year old self and expect both of them to be same or similar; behavior change, same as music, even though the roots are constant.
The album consists of 14 tracks in total, and the album gets better by each song. It has some of the best solos I’ve ever heard Zakk Wylde play; they’re vivid, precise, mellow and serene, unlike what many shredders do while playing solos. Usually when a metal song has an acoustic guitar for rhythm and electric on lead, electric sometimes is loud that it supplants its partner. And any music aficionado will tell you why rhythm is important. ‘Book Of Shadows II’ overcomes that “technical glitch” and team work both his guitars show is commendable. It shows how much control Zakk has over his instruments and his music, and he’s not playing random notes just because they sound good together.
Middle part of the album with songs “Darkest Hour”, “The Levee”, “Eyes Of Burden” and “Forgotten Memory” along with “Sorrowed Regret” and “The King” towards the end are some of my favorites from the album, but that is a highly personal choice. Each track stands on his own and just as lovely and mesmerizing as any other on from the album. Each track better than the previous one you heard even if you put the album on shuffle. Vocals put forth a softer side of Zakk Wylde but with his wild (written Wylde) guitar skills; the combination is a match of The Beauty and The Beast. If it was Thanksgiving Day, I would be thankful to each and every person who worked hard on this album to make this album extremely beautiful. The musicians, production team, mastering team, the studio, mixing team; they all complement each other in this album. And when each one works as a team, the result is what you will find out by listening the album.
What makes Book Of Shadows II such a great album is Zakk Wylde knowing what he’s playing, knowing what message he wants to convey and it’s from the heart. And as they say, any words spoken from heart will touch the heart, no matter what they are.