Black Label Society: Unblackened

Unblackened was recorded earlier this year at Los Angeles’ Club Nokia. This two-disc compilation includes 23 songs, an interview with Zakk Wylde, and other Black Label Society bonus content. Wylde is accompanied by Chad Szeliga on drums, Nick Catanese on guitar, John DeServio on bass/vocals and Derek Sherinian on keyboards/piano. The band introduces a greater use of acoustic instrumentation to this live performance. One of my favorite Wylde projects is the self-titled Pride And Glory album. “Losin’ Your Mind,” “Machine Gun Man” and “Sweet Jesus” all appear on this recording. “Lovin’ Woman” was slowed down a bit, providing a more stripped down approach to the classic number. “Stillborn” is an acoustic cut that showcases the band’s versatility and technical ability as musicians. As the song becomes more upbeat, the guitar bursts into a solo that steals the show, laying melodically over the strummed chords.

“Sold My Soul” and “Road Back Home” make use of the piano and keys to kick off the songs with great melodies. As they progress, the guitars shine and solos rip and roar over solid rhythmic and melodious parts. The guitars and musicians’ abilities to solo over fantastic rhythmic pieces are highlighted on this full-length. “Throwin’ It All Away” makes use of this technique, and perfects it in this 11-minute performance. Black Label Society change things up on this LP with songs like “Takillya (Estyabon)” and “Speedball,” which feature fast-paced finger-picking. A cover of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” is also included on Unblackened.

This live recording features songs from Pride And Glory, The Blessed Hellride, Book Of Shadows and many other notable works. For fans of Wylde and Black Label Society, this album is definitely worth the listen.

In A Word: Classic