Zakk Wylde slaved away in New Jersey rock bands until landing a spot with the metal madman himself, Ozzy Osbourne. Wylde’s bare bones style of a Les Paul played loudly through a Marshall amp helped Ozzy to score some of his biggest hits, including a Grammy for “I Don’t Want to Change the World”.
It wasn’t until Wylde formed his own band; Pride & Glory that the world got to see the range he possessed. A solemn acoustic album followed and Wylde has since been pulverizing the world with Black Label Society and stands as the lone guitar hero on top of the rock and roll mountain.
Each Zakk Wylde led album has highlights for rock fans and guitar purists. Here are ten of Zakk’s best tracks, not to mention the classics he wrote as part of Ozzy’s band.
“Horse Called War” from Pride & Glory – Wylde wastes little time tearing the roof off the barn and plowing through five minutes of blinding Sabbath meets southern rock and roll.
“Between Heaven and Hell” from Book of Shadows – The solemnity of Book of Shadows is broken by the almost cheery harmonica on this song. This isn’t the best example of Wylde’s ferocious guitar playing, but it is one of his most finely crafted songs.
“Bored to Tears” from Sonic Brew – Black Label Society delivers its crushing blow to rap rock. The riff is massive and the groove is a monster. Hold on or get out of the way.
“Counterfeit God” from Stronger than Death – Wylde pulls a trick out of Ozzy’s hat and condemns the hypocritical televangelists that can’t get past rock and roll being the cause of their kid’s issues. Slap on a pulverizing riff and it becomes crucial BLS.
“Stronger than Death” from Stronger Than Death – Wylde has used the BLS name to promote several things, mostly beer and heavy metal, but also strength, perseverance, honor and quite a few other morally acceptable ideas. It’s also loud, rude and primed for performance in front of thousands of Ozzfest kids.
“Speedball” from 1919 Eternal – This is just Wylde being a showoff. In a less than one minute instrumental he demonstrates why no other popular guitar player today can touch him.
“Stillborn” from The Blessed Hellride – Ozzy and Zakk share vocals on this BLS breakthrough track. Primal sludge gives way to a screaming electronic-tinged guitar lead.
“Crazy or High” from Hangover Music Vol VI – Wylde unplugged on the sixth BLS album, and disappointed the fans expecting another slab of boozy metal. “Crazy or High” was less moody than previous acoustic songs and borrowed an Alice in Chains vibe. His humor and fantastic acoustic playing is on display through this album highlight.
“Fire it Up” from Mafia – Each new BLS album has been more focused and honed to a razor sharp edge. This lead-off track to Mafia is as good as anything BLS has put to tape and its extended solo flies in the face of everything popular in 2006.
“Doomsday Inc.” from Kings of Damnation – Wylde must have been saving this one for a while. This extra on the BLS “hits” disc is the perfect introduction to every facet of the BLS Machine. A simple and crushing riff, Wylde’s war-torn Viking voice, and the typical imagery of “by any means necessary” solidifies what BLS is all about.
Zakk Wylde is the hardest working man in metal. BLS consistently releases a new album every year and is a staple of the Ozzfest tour where Wylde also pulls double duty as Ozzy’s guitarist. The new BLS album Shot to Hell is anticipated this fall, and a new Ozzy record will follow early next year. Just for the record, Wylde had very little to do with Ozzy’s atrocious Down to Earth album.