Zakk Wylde went from being an unknown local musician to metal
god Ozzy Osbourne's lead axe-slinger. Along the way, he managed to
start Black Label Society, one of the most hard-rocking bands to ever
blast out of a set of speakers. BLS's seventh release, Mafia, is the ultimate and
finest testament to Wylde's musical virtuosity.
Wylde's tale begins at the age of eight when he quit his regimented piano
lessons. Playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" over and over just didn't suit him.
Instead of nursery rhymes, he sat down and taught Ilimself Elton John's
"Crocodile Rock." As he entered high school, the kid who wanted only to play
linebacker on the football team realized he was too small for the position. Zakk
Wylde, unlike many his age, took his lemon and made a shit-load of lemonade.
"I was at my coach's house one day and saw a Les Paul on the wall. My
coach's son picked it up and began playing," Wylde explains. "It was mind-blowing
to see someone do it in front of me. I was like, 'Holy Christ!' I went home
and practiced ten to twelve hours a day from the minute I got home from school
to the minute I went to bed."
Fortunately for all lovers of rock, the little guy from New Jersey never
stopped playing the thing. Upon graduating, Wylde saved up enough money to
buy a Gibson Les Paul Custom (this guitar now resides in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall
of Fame) and began gigging around New Jersey.
Screenwriters, pay attention: Wylde was shredding up a club one night in
986 with his band Stone Henge, when a rock photographer offered to pass
along a tape of him to Ozzy Osbourne and his manager-wife Sharon. Osbourne
had recently lost his lead guitarist, Randy Rhoads, in a plane crash.
"I thought, this guy's out of his mind," Zakk says boisterously of the photographer'
s offer. "But I was working at a gas station, so what did I have to lose? I
was a huge Black Sabbath, Randy Rhoads, and Ozzy fan, so I sent them a tape
demoing a couple of solos," Zakk recounts with a huge grin. "Next thing I know,
get a call from Sharon at my mom and dad's house and was flown out to
England and began writing with Ozzy! I was nineteen! It was fuckin' nuts, man!"
zakk went on to co-write some of Ozzy's bestselling and multi-platinum
albums, including No Rest for the Wicked, No More Tears, and Ozzmosis. He
oured all around the world with Ozzy, playing his signature bull's eye Les Paul in
ont of huge crowds, and became a ferociously praised and accomplished
musician, as well as one of the most widely known guitarists in the metal kingdom.
In 2003 Guitar Player magazine voted Zakk one of the Greatest Guitarists
ever. The hard-living axe-wielder has also won Guitar World's MVP award
numerous times and was recently voted by the magazine's readers the biggest
"contemporary e Icon" alive.
in the 1994 Zakk formed the southern-friend band Pride & Glory. The kick-ass
power-trio released a self-titled album before hanging it up. Four years later Zakk
released his first and only solo album, Book of Shadows. The album was a
glimpse of what was soon to come: Black Label Society.
BLS (as they are also known) is how Zakk gets his rocks off when he's not
roaming around the globe with Ozzy.The band, as Zakk likes to say, is "pure
fuckin' brewtality!" and he's not kidding. Black Label is rowdy, aggressive, headbanging
metal in its finest and most true form. After five studio releases, one
live album, and one DVD, BLS has sold in excess of a million records. As a
result, branches of fans have formed all over the world (known as Black Label
Chapters); they exist solely to get together and rock out with the Society! "The
chapters are a bunch of buddies hooking up together and hanging out. It's like
two Yankees fans running into each other in Seattle. They'll slap each other on
the back and say, 'I'm Joe. Wanna get a drink?'" Wylde proudly explains. To all
the BLS chapter members out there, Wylde has one message: "Stay strong,
brothers, and keep on bleeding Black fuckin' Label!"
Mafia, Black Label's seventh album, is a celebration of all things BLS. "Mafia
is my family, my band, and the fans. But remember," Wylde warns, "you don't
want to fuck with the Mafia, man." "I look around," he adds "and BLS is growing
like one beautiful family." The self-produced Mafia contains songs such as
the head-bashing, balls-to-the-wall "Fire It Up." The song is a hellraiser, yet
catchy like nothing BLS has ever laid down before. "I just knocked that one right
out," Zakk proudly boasts. "I don't think it will be getting on Nickelodeon, but it's
so fuckin' fun to play, man."
From there we get to the album's first single, "Suicide Messiah," a tour de
force of fist-throwing swagger coupled with an extra dose of "Black Label brewtality"
thrown in to get the heads banging and the house stomping. Of the single
Billboard wrote, "The first growls recall Sabbath classics 'Iron Man' and
'Paranoid,' but then Wylde gets down to business, producing a thick menacing
dirge as he saws away on his axe." Then we have "In This River," a melancholy
and beautiful ballad written before tragedy struck, but is now a heartfelt tribute
to Wylde's fallen friend and musical brother, Dimebag Darrell. The song finds
Zakk on the piano he long ago taught himself to play, grieving the loss of his
closest friend. "It's Dime's song now. It didn't start out that way, but it's his ballad
now," the slinger musters up.
Mafia offers up eleven other spoonfuls of menacing metal, but, alas, only
leaves you craving more. Metal Edge's review proclaims: "For any self-respecting
metal fans out there who've yet to bear witness to the Black Label, consider
Mafia your initiation. Pay your respects and join the family-you're long overdue,
and it just doesn't get any better than this."
"With Black Label we all hang out and enjoy each other's company," Zakk
explains. "The only requirement to be in BLS is you can't be an asshole and you
got to be able to play your goddamn instrument." The man who owns some
seventy guitars takes that last rule very much to heart. "When I wake up I look
forward to playing and practicing. I still practice every day, whether it's for a
couple of hours or forty-five minutes. It's like I always say: You'll always be
forty-five minutes better than you were the day before." He goes on, "The sky's
the limit; it's endless, man. You got to stay hungry and keep trying hard. And
you never disrespect the warriors who came before you," Zakk announces at his
most humble.
Mafia finds Wylde joined by Nick Catanese (guitars), Craig Nunemacher
(drums), and James Lomenzo (bass). "I love these guys," he states. "We all
hang out on the road. I could never be in a band if I didn't like somebody. Life's
just too goddamned short for that shit," he adds.
In addition to BLS's five studio albums and their one slamming live album,
the band star in Boozed, Broozed, and Broken-Boned, their dynamic live DVD., on the show, wrote: "There are a lot of reasons to give one's
liver a serious workout. .. apparently three thousand Zakk Wylde fans share our
opinion, as evidenced by their spectacular performance."
Besides being a bona fide rock 'n' roll institution of his own, Zakk Wylde can
also list "movie star" on his resume. Wylde starred in 2001's Rock Star, featuring
Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston. Naturally, Wylde played the lead guitarist
in Wahlberg's band, Steel Dragon. Black Label guitarist Nick Catanese also
appeared in Rock Star as the guitar player in Steel Dragon's rival band, Blood Pollution.
What many do not know about the man known for his awesome finger-work
on the fretboard and explosive personality is that he is a devoted family man.
"Rock 'n' roll, are you fucking kidding me?" Wylde questions. "I'm the AI Bundy
of rock 'n' roll-I'm married with children. But hey," he adds, "I just want to play
some music, whip some fucking ass, drink a little beer, and hang out with the
family. That's all I need."
When asked about Mafia, Zakk Wylde is bound to crack a joke. "If you dig
the Carpenters, you're gonna like Mafia," he smiles. "No seriously," he says
gravely, "buy this album 'cause my kids need to eat and I got a humongous beer
tab to payoff. Please pay this beer tab off for me!" Wylde blurts out doubled
over in a raucous laughter.

Series: Play It Like It Is
Artist: Black Label Society
Matching folio to the 2005 release from Zakk Wylde's latest band, with 15 cuts:

Been A Long Time
Death March
Dirt On The Grave
Dr. Octavia
Electric Hellfire
Fire It Up
Forever Down
I Never Dreamed
In This River
Say What You Will
Spread Your Wings
Suicide Messiah
Too Tough To Die
What's In You
You Must Be Blind

80 pages

Price: €99,99