OCTOBER 7th 2013
BLACK LABEL SOCIETY: UNBLACKENED

Review by Ruben Mosqueda

Zakk Wylde was discovered by Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne when he auditioned for the vacancy left by Jake E. Lee. Wylde made his debut with Ozzy’s band on the No Rest for the Wicked album in 1988. Wylde went on to have an illustrious career playing in Ozzy’s band. Zakk Wylde launched Black Label Society in 1998 and has been recording and touring with the band since that time.

There’s been a couple of returns to Ozzy’s band since that time but for the most part Black Label Society is his full-time gig. If you can believe this; to date BLS has issued 9 studio albums, 1 E.P., 2 live records and 2 compilations. Let’s not forget 3 live DVD’s 1 of which is the recently issued Unblackened. Unlike the previous DVD’s this one finds BLS playing tracks from the BLS back catalog with a slight twist to it. When I heard that BLS was doing a ‘stripped down’ set I concluded that it would be an acoustic set. It’s not—at least not completely. Zakk pulls out the acoustic guitar periodically throughout the set and plays some piano; but for the most part he remains plugged in—just sitting on a stool.

 

If you saw this show this spring on AXS TV then you know what I’m talking about. The show was filmed at Club Nokia in Los Angeles on March 16th, 2013 and it’s an electrifying career spanning live document of Wylde’s solo career. The show kicks off appropriately with “Losin’ You Mind” from Zakk’s first project after joining Ozzy Osbourne’s band Pride & Glory. BLS tear through an 18 track set that left the audience stunned in amazement at the precision and execution.

Wylde’s vocals have gotten stronger with each passing album and he has grown to sound like beefy version of Gregg Allman. The standout tracks on Unblackened are; “Losin’ You Mind” complete with the with pre-recorded banjo intro and big screen video clip footage playing in the background, "The Blessed Hellride," "Spoke in the Wheel,” "House of Doom,” “Machine Gun Man,” “In This River,” and “I Thank You Child” complete with big screen video footage of his then adolescent daughter singing along to the aforementioned track. The label has also issued an accompanying CD set to Unblackened with bonus cuts which will surely have the BLS faithful dropping a few additional dollars for a copy of. Unblackened will tide the fans over while they patiently await the next move by Zakk & Co.