Zakk Wylde - Book of Shadows
I remember working a record store during the summer of '96 and getting a promo copy of this record to play in the store, I thought, "I'm ready to rock," and to my surprise, instead of the cranking rush of a Marshall stack, I hear the sound of a Neal Young folk/rock style song, and then it hit me.

In 1996, when alternative rock was brainwashing mainstream audiences with complete slop, a record that came out of nowhere that not only surprised fans with a different sound from such a well known axe slinger, it left them in awe.

Having established himself as Ozzy's Axeman in the late eighties, and then leaving to form the gut wrenching swamp metal outfit Pride and Glory, with Book of Shadows, Wylde proved himself more than just your virtuoso guitarist goes solo/forms side project, it showcased a different side of Wylde, bringing the singer-songwriter perspective to metal.

The turn to play this type of material, and to play it properly was an amazing feat, you cant deny that the hook ridden choruses such as those in "Somewhere Between heaven and Hell," with the melodic harmonies, and the dueling acoustic versus electric solo, "What you're Looking For" that is one of the most emotionally moving songs ever written, or the acoustic groove of "The Things You Do," proved that Wylde had just established himself as a songwriter.

But with Book of Shadows, it was not just the songs, it was also the expression, using string sections on ballads like the haunting twelve string ridden track "Sold My Soul," the stripped folk of "Dead as Yesterday;" and the piano ballad of "Too Numb to Cry;" not to mention diversity found within "Road Back Home," opening with a pipe organ intro and ending with a shredding guitar solo.

There is one heavy cut, "1,000,000 Miles away" bring the metallic sound to the front again towards the end. The bonus tracks feature three tracks that didn't appear on the original Geffen release, all three are great continuations of the record, and could have easily fit on Book of Shadows without being filler, with "Evil Ways" (not the Santana song) being the strongest of the three.

Although Zakk would go on to form his next incarnation, Black Label Society, which would be a return to the all-things-heavy stance, Book of Shadows marks a great place in the history of metal and a stance for diversity for Wylde. It does not surprise me when I go see some band somewhere covering one of these songs of this record. I may get tarred and feathered for this, but I think that this is the best record he has ever done, hands down.

Written by Hashman
Monday, July 5, 2004
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Hashman: 9/10

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RevelationZ Comments

Comment by Morten (Anonymous) - Tuesday, July 6, 2004
Hola Hashman!

Great to see someone who appreciate this album as much as I do! (Such a shame that it has gone missing form my shelfs (now advanced onto stacks on the floor) with albums.

Comment by Hashman (Tommy Hash) (Anonymous) - Thursday, July 8, 2004
When ranking this album within my top ten of 1996, it is #2, right behind Rush's "Test for Echo."

Comment by Morten (Anonymous) - Thursday, July 8, 2004
Test For Echo, great album too!!!
Marked Rush's return to "power".

Review by Hashman

Released by
Spitfire Records - 1999

1- Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell
2- Sold My Soul
3- Road Back Home
4- Way Beyond Empty
5- Throwin' it all Away
6- What You're Looking For
7- Dead as Yesterday
8- Too Numb to Cry
9- The Things You Do
10- 1,000,000 Miles Away
11- I Thank You Child

Bonus Disc
1- Evil Ways
2- The Color Green
3- Peddlers of Death

Originally released in 1996 on Geffen Records

Acoustic Hard Rock/Metal

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