Sound — 10
Zakk Wylde is one of the most underrated song writers in the world of metal. After taking leave of Ozzy Osborne, Wylde was seemingly damned to rock purgatory. Although he pressed on in numerous side projects, like the proverbial tree in the forest, Zakk received media animosity for years. So maybe it was a blessing that a decidedly senile Ozzy Osborne started whoring around on MTV, because when Ozzfest gained mainstream acceptance, Wylde's Black Label Society was unleashed. Suddenly, the scope of current metal was broadened considerably, making room for metal revival bands like Children Of Bodom and Shadows Fall. Appreciation for the technical ingenuity that defined early metal was most righteously reborn. Bands like Pantera and Slayer have been introduced to a new generation of music fans and guitar players. Amongst the plentiful post-grunge acts lined up for Ozzfest fame, BLS has helped to revive metal, a genre in which down-tuned guitars, groping wannabes and shock value have replaced talent or ingenuity.
Before BLS, there was Pride And Glory, Wylde's 1994 side project with drummer Joe Vitale and bassist James Lomenzo. With tight timing, amazing range and incredible depth, not to mention Zakk's fat tone and inimitable chops, this is most definately one of the best albums of it's class. Vitale's telepathically touchy drumming and Lomenzo's soulful bass provide the tight-rope rhythm for Wylde's thick riffs and squealing harmonics. On tracks like "Horse Called War" and "Toe'n The Line", or "Machine Gun Man" (a must-hear), one might wonder if this album can possibly get any better. Unfortunately, other songs like "Shine On" and "Troubled Wine" make one wonder if maybe Zakk was getting a little bored with this project.
I find the tastiest tunes on this album are often the most primitive, the most simplistic. On tracks like "Hate Your Guts" and "Cry Me A River", Zakk rocks out in loyal homage to his southern roots. Wylde wields a banjo with the same prowess he applies to his throaty Les Paul on "Losin' Your Mind", and he rocks the mandolin like no other on the sparkling, incandescent "Lovin' Woman". The listener can't help slight disappointment upon hearing the second disc. Although Wylde scores on his cover of Sabbath's "The Wizard", his revamped version of the Beatles' "Come Together" is a little off-the-cuff. And surely Wylde could have chosen a Zeppelin cover more fitting to his style than "In My Time Of Dying". Wylde is clearly more comfortable with his own element.
No problem, though. This album is more than saved by it's first disc, and the covers, are still a thrilling alternative to the anything modern coming out these days. The art of the guitar solo has been long ignored, and so long as musicians like Zakk Wylde continue to 'toe the line', it is evident that this art will be resurrected like never before.
Lyrics — 8
Clearly, Ozzy had little impact on Zakk Wylde's lyrics, which is probably all the better. Wylde's lyrics are deceptively simple, although the voice with which he wields them carries them comfortably. The songs are written in the style of his forebearers, like the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd; conventional epithets of women, wine, agression and remission. You can almost hear the stereotypes snapping as the burly, brash Wylde eases down with an acoustic for tunes like "Cry Me A River" and "Lovin' Woman". These songs are not lacking balls, however. Zakk never misses an opportunity to throw in a sparkling solo. His range on this album amazes, as compared to his vocals in BLS. Wylde croons as easily as he howls, and he does so with exactitute and passion.
Overall Impression — 10
I love the balance and feeling of this album. It is by far one of my favorite albums of all time. As I've said, compared to what comes about in modern rock, this is a masterpiece. I can't appreciate some of the covers as much as others might, but that's all fine and well. If I were to lose this album, I would frisk all my friends for it and probably go into musical seclusion for a while. I jest, but overall, this is a must-have for the rock guitarist.