July 20, 2024

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American guitar hero, Zakk Wylde, has released his second solo album in 2016. Rocking out on both the acoustic and electric guitar with melodic keyboard play, Wylde puts it all out on the table with Book of Shadows II, which arrives twenty years after his first solo effort. The southern rock and blues vibe on each of the fourteen cuts in the collection is heavier than you’ve ever heard from him before. “Autumn Changes” sets the ball rolling, followed by a gripping “Tears of December”, and the moving “Lay Me Down”. My personal favorite “Lost Prayer” comes next, and the guitar soloing on this one will simply give you goosebumps.

While most shredders of his caliber have run out of passion this late in their career, Zakk shows us why he is still one of the most prolific and soulful musicians living on the planet today. I think that’s what people can tend to forget about a man who is best known as being the former lead guitar player for the legendary OZZY OSBOURNE, along with fronting the biker-tough BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. And just when you think he has outdone himself, Zakk takes it to another level on track five’s “Darkest Hour”, which is undoubtedly one of the strongest tracks he has ever recorded in his entire career. Wylde’s shredding on this gem is a notch above anything else you will hear in modern rock. He moves up and down the frets with a smooth ease that only comes with having played at such a high level for so long. Say what you want about his singing voice. While I concede he’s never possessed a great range in his vocal ability, Zakk makes up for his shortcomings with tons of character and heart. He just sounds like some cat that is really feeling what he does, which you can’t always say about the top musical performers.

Up next is the poignant “The Levee”, “Eyes of Burden”, and “Forgotten Memory”, one not being better than the other, instead each achieving damn near musical perfection in their own way. Track nine’s “Yesterday’s Tears” somehow climbs higher than the rest, however, and surely is Wylde’s most stirring vocal performance on the album. Amazingly, the momentum pushes forward without a hitch, thanks to the stellar “Harbors of Pity”, “Sorrowed Regrets” and the totally masterful “Useless Apologies”. Book of Shadows II concludes with the powerful “Sleeping Dogs” and memorable “The King”. Any fan of well written, country, blues, or hard rock music will definitely want to add this album to your collection.


Five Stars
ZAKK WYLDE – “Book Of Shadows 2” (CD)

(eOne Music US/2016)

1. Autumn Changes
2. Tears of December
3. Lay Me Down
4. Lost Prayer
5. Darkest Hour
6. The Levee
7. Eyes of Burden
8. Forgotten Memory
9. Yesterday’s Tears
10. Harbors of Pity
11. Sorrowed Regrets
12. Useless Apologies
13. Sleeping Dogs
14. The King