Light and Shade
Guitar Player|January 2022
Zakk Wylde emerges from lockdown with an album that laces ballads with twin-guitar rockers.
By Mark McStea. Photographs By Jesse Wild and Jen Rosenstein
ZAKK WYLDE FIRST came to prominence when he joined Ozzy Osbourne’s band as a replacement for Jake E. Lee, making his recorded debut with Ozzy in 1988 on No Rest for the Wicked. The gig was a dream job for Wylde, who’d always loved Black Sabbath and cited Randy Rhoads as one of his favorite guitarists. Ozzy initially wrote off Wylde as a Rhoads clone, but once the guitarist got the chance to show what he could do, it was a no-brainer for the Prince of Darkness. Wylde has featured on Ozzy’s records and in his live band on-and-off ever since. He embarked on a solo career while with Ozzy, recording Pride and Glory in 1994 and Book of Shadows in 1996. Wylde formed his own band, Black Label Society, in 1999 and has released 15albums under that banner.

Though Wylde has long been known for his berserker Viking image and uniquely pulverizing guitar tone and riffs, there is far more to his playing than down-tuned grooves and screaming pinched harmonics, as heard on the new BLS album, Doom Crew Inc. (eOne). The record showcases three ballads that amply illustrate Wylde’s range of moods, styles, and songwriting talents.

How did the pandemic affect the making of this new record?

When we came off the road, we figured we'd be back home for a month. Before we knew what was going on, it was over a year. We just thought we might as well make another record because we sure weren’t going to be doing any shows. I arranged for the guys to come out to my studio here, the BlackVatican. I spent a month working on riffs and ideas. The way that I work is to complete a whole song, rather than stockpile an idea for a chorus or a bridge or something. I tracked all the guitars, with no drums or bass, and the rest of the guys laid down their parts in a couple of days.

You’re someone who seems to be constantly touring. How did you handle the enforced layoff from live work?

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