This is Introspective Zaak. Pensive Zakk. Zakk Mylde.
It's definitely a departure for the hirsute, leather-and-studs guitar warrior whose work with Ozzy Osbourne and his own Black Label Society established him as one of heavy metal's elite shredders. It's a decent enough album, but the problem is the unrelenting sameness of the songs. Mostly minor-key, mid-tempo power ballads delivered in Wylde's disturbingly Creed-like baritone, these 15 tracks don't provide enough variety to justify the hour-plus running time. I gave the album a few listens on Spotify and actually found myself looking forward to the commercials.
Fans of Wylde's nimble fretboard fireworks will find plenty of weedly-weedly squealing and whammy bar abuse in "Eyes of Burden" and "Sorrowed Regrets," but elsewhere, as on "Autumn Changes" and "The Levee," he shows more restraint, playing solos that sound more Southern rock than metal bludgeon.
The songs, mostly sporting sullen titles like "Useless Apologies" and "Darkest Hour," are utterly free of irony, humor or any glimmers of light that would be a welcome respite from the dark and melancholy themes. "Yesterday's Tears" displays some nice white-boy soul, bringing to mind the downbeat grit of Lynyrd Skynyrd. The rest of Book of Shadows II, though, is a relentless march of torpid songs filled with lugubrious imagery and well-worn phrases. Hopefully he's got the power-folk jones out of his system and will go back to being Hard Rockin' Zakk.
Zakk Wylde plays the Wilma Thu., Aug. 18 with Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown and Jared James Nichols. 8 PM. $35/$25.