BOOK OF SHADOWS II
- Autumn Changes
- Tears of December
- Lay Me Down
- Lost Prayer
- Darkest Hour
- The Levee
- Eyes of Burden
- Forgotten Memory
- Yesterday’s Tears
- Harbours of Pity
- Sorrowed Regrets
- Useless Apologies
- Sleeping Dogs
- The King
Book of Shadows II is the second solo album from Zakk Wylde. It was released on the 8th April, and is his first solo record for twenty years.
Wylde’s previous album was entitled Book of Shadows, and it’s clear why he’s chosen to name this venture Book of Shadows II. The music is in the same genre, and it delivers the same emotions and openness.
Wylde’s solo albums are a departure from his other work. It’s rooted in Southern Rock, Americana, Blues, and other genres you might want to relate to it. Even for a guy from New Jersey, he gets it so right. If you’re expecting heavy metal, or Zakk’s trademark shredding, look elsewhere.
The opening track is melancholy in lyrical tone, as is the rest of the album, but the instruments are uplifting, to give a sense that this will be a cleansing process for Wylde. There is so much emotive language and sad themes, but the album is a way of exorcising those things, dealing with it, and getting back to living happy. Maybe that’s why it’s taken two decades to come around; he hasn’t needed to do it until now.
It’s been an up and down ride for Zakk Wylde over those years, with success coming from founding Black Label Society, playing and writing with Ozzy Osbourne, as well as dabbling in acting, and enjoying family life. Alongside this, he’s had health issues, eventually quitting alcohol as a result, and suffered at the loss of friends and family, as we all do. Each of us have a way to deal with the stuff that makes us crazy, and it seems that this album has been a way for Wylde. It’s so personal and honest. “My Autumn changes have come and gone,” he sings. It’s telling us that this album has a beginning, middle and end. I find it interesting that this song is the opener, when it feels like it’s a conclusion. It’s almost like Wylde is telling a story, and has started it with the assurance that it has a happy ending.
The next couple of tracks are a soft, inviting, easy-listening sound, good for a late-night drive through the city, or one of those nights on your own with a drink of choice, and possibly a cat or a lizard, whichever is more your jam. Then the fourth track, “Lost Prayer”, brings things back up, with a more blues/soul vibe. This is very to my taste, and I love Zakk’s vocals. In fact, his voice is so great for this style, and keeps me hooked throughout the record.
The whole thing is a wave of melancholy Folk Rock numbers followed by Blues ones, and this makes the fourteen tracks that last for over an hour seem like so much less, and able to keep your attention. Wylde’s signature sound comes through over and over, but especially so in “Forgotten Memory”. The guitar is so moving, and full of soul. It’s definitely my favourite track. “Yesterday’s Tears” follows on with the Blues mood, but it’s brought down again as the album gets towards its end. It’s soothing, but if it weren’t for the uplifting melody in the chorus of “Sorrowed Regret,” it would probably depress me. Thankfully, Wylde’s guitar solos and bridges are comforting, bringing me back to the message delivered in the opening track.
Overall, it’s a soothing, hopeful feeling that’s taken away, and I can’t wait to play this record on my next road trip. It’s perfect for a counter to the stresses of life, so enjoy it.