It has been 20 years since the first Book of Shadows from heavy metal guitarist, ZAKK WYLDE. It was a world away from his usual styles he had previously displayed with his band BLACK LABEL SOCIETY and OZZY OSBOURNE. It had a southern, acoustic rock feel to it and a relaxation away from the typical sounds we expect from him. Now with Book of Shadows II, out two decades later, there have been many concerns raised, many that the album would not match and almost take away the magic that was in Part I.
The second the intro track, Autumn Changes, sweeps in it is clear to see that the album will of course match up to its incredible predecessor, masking the 20 years apart. It is once again a window into seeing the capabilities of ZAKK WYLDE and how he can instantly remove himself away from the music that so many people associate him with.
Tears of December and Lay Me Down carry the same consistency as Autumn Changes. It delves into the style that many will not expect from a metal titan. Each track almost mirrors another from the predeceasing album, with subjects about love, heartbreak and pain. Many people will not delve the sad truth into this realm from ZAKK WYLDE, due to believing he does not change his sound but if they picked up this record, they would be pleasantly surprised. In true WYLDE style however, he does still show off his impeccable guitar skills with snazzy solos and throwing pentatonic scales all over the shop but it is done in a more elegant fashion than the usual. He explores everything he usually does in a completely different manner acoustically and it works wonders.
At some points, it becomes nostalgic to Book of Shadows I, it is ethereal and has every element that was hoped for. Sadly, it does not carry throughout and in some parts, it almost feels as though ZAKK WYLDE was trying a little too hard to keep that feeling and does not create anything new for listeners to experience if they have been familiar to Part I.
There is one thing that ZAKK WYLDE does not do enough of with his other projects and that is creating emotion through his music, despite releasing stripped down material with BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. On this record you most certainly experience that. It becomes a whole different realm in terms of the music that he creates, almost refreshing, especially with the track The King.
Whilst every album on the record can be considered a ballad, The King defeats all and delivers nothing but an emotional hold. It is easy to say that it is the most beautiful track that is on this second deliverance of incredible music. Tearing away from the use of acoustic guitars, we are sat with an elegant love song, showing us the talent that ZAKK WYLDE is capable of, something that can often be dismissed, as many believe he can be too repetitive in his other music.
Not many people would think that he as a musician could be able to pull off a love song like The King, yet he has gone beyond to deliver not just a love song but also a side where ZAKK WYLDE has really opened up his heart for us all to peer into.
Each track on Book of Shadows II has its own elegance. For fans of Book of Shadows I however, it is a beautiful transition into how ZAKK WYLDE has developed his own style over the past twenty years for us to discover that he can still keep the magic of the first alive but create something new. For many artists, it can be a difficult task following up to something that was such an iconic record in their career but ZAKK WYLDE has had no noticeable problems, minus the previously mentioned.
Book of Shadows II creates an easy nostalgia but also keeps valuable room to ensure that new memories are made to and with the music of this record. It defies all expectations of its predecessor and will continue to create a respect for the way that ZAKK WYLDE can alternate between different styles and be skilled and passionate enough for them to be executed as brilliantly as they are.
Book of Shadows II is out now via Spinefarm Records.