Zakk Wylde and the denimed denizens of Black Label Society have outdone themselves with Unblackened, a live album boasting semi-acoustic arrangements of songs spanning their catalog.
But don’t let “acoustic” fool you. This is no “Coom-By-Ya” campfire party; in fact, there is plenty of electrifying rock-and-roll here. Recorded at Los Angeles’ Club Nokia earlier this year, Wylde’s electric guitar is front-and-center, and his road-worn vocals sit just as well when paired with supple, laid back grooves as when raging. Unblackened focuses on mellower fare from Black Label Society, along with choice cuts from the guitarist’s solo work and the now defunct Pride & Glory. And while it does offer a unique perspective on the music at hand, it does so with a polished warmth that begs for a little dirt and sweat at times.
The second disc includes plenty of bonus material made up of not only unplugged readings of “Queen of Sorrow” and “Won’t Find it Here,” but covers of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” and Leon Russell’s “Song for You.” And while you can’t complain about bonus material, this smattering is a bit bumpy since it switches between the raw, live feel and the more sterile studio vibe.
Black Label Society are to be commended for their adventurousness with Unblackened, not to mentioned that they nailed the performance. While it may not inspire whiskey-slugging and roadhouse brawling, it certainly dives deep into the heart of Zakk Wylde‘s songwriting.
Unblackened is out now on eOne Music.
Rating: 4/5 Stars