Album review: BLACK LABEL SOCIETY – Unblackened

Black Label Society - Unblackened

Armoury Records [Release date 23.09.13]

Recorded at the Club Nokia in Los Angeles this highlights Zakk Wylde and the Black Label Society in acoustic mode, well as acoustic as Zakk Wylde can get! Derek Sherinian (Black Country Communion/Dream Theater) is in the band on keyboards/piano which helps keep the heaviness in check and Zakk himself is no mean slouch on piano as can be heard on ‘House Of Doom’, one of the album’s stand outs.

‘The Blessed Hellride’ and ‘Stillborn’ take on a whole new sound in this setting and the band are tighter than a gnat’s chuff as you’d expect them to be. On this double CD you also get six studio recordings, including an amazing cover of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone’ proving what a good vocal Zakk has. There is also some lovely acoustic guitar playing on the songs, often at a frantic flamenco style!

Essential for BLS fans (there is an accompanying DVD too) and if you’ve not heard Zakk Wylde outside of his days in Ozzy Osbourne’s band this album is good place to start.

****

Review by Jason Ritchie

DVD review out now on Eagle Vision…

Some 15 years since former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde formed Black Label Society, the band have released “Unblackened”, a show featuring more acoustic instruments than you would expect from the band.

The show was recorded at Los Angeles’ Club Nokia and whilst the songs have a more stripped down approach, they have lost none of their power and intensity.  Opening with the heavy country of Pride & Glory’s “Losin’ Your Mind”, the set includes some great acoustic guitar work (“Speedball”, “Won’t Find It Here” and “Takillya”) some interesting piano work from Wylde (“Road Back Home”, “Spoke In The Wheel” and “In This River”) and the usual great solos you would expect (“Still Born”).

There is an unexpected addition to “Thank You Child” where Wylde is filmed singing the song with his young daughter at home before this gives way to Zakk playing it acoustically before being joined by the full band playing it. Other highlights amongst the seventeen tracks on offer include “House of Doom” , “Machine Gun Man” and “Sweet Jesus” .

The show is also released as a double CD with a couple of extra tracks but the DVD comes with some great extras in the form of a new interview, the original video for “Losin’ Your Mind” and a 55 minute, almost documentary like, feature on Zakk Wylde’s visit to HMP Stocken where he plays for inmates as well as answering questions.

This DVD is a great addition to the collection of any Black Label Society fan.

Review by Nikk Gunns


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