Black Label Society’s Unblackened is not the first live recording released by the band. It is however a recording that any true society dweller from any chapter will want to include in their own Black Label library. As front man Zakk Wylde notes in the recording’s bonus interview segment, the performance contained on this recording is not an acoustic show. It is by and large a selection of songs altered from their original state. In some cases, the songs have been toned down from their originals. In other cases, the songs have just been altered and made even more beautiful and moving than before. That’s just one part of what audiences will appreciate from this new live recording from Black Label Society and Eagle Rock Entertainment. The performance itself is noteworthy. That’s because unlike most normal Black Label live events, this one is itself toned down. Audiences will also appreciate the bonus material included with the recording. Already mentioned is the bonus interview. It is the highlight of the bonus features. There is also a home movie of sorts included from HM Prison in the UK. It’s a great opportunity to see Wylde sitting down and performing by himself. These two additions and the bonus music video for ‘Losin’ Your Mind’ complete the presentation and make it another must have for any true BLS fan.
The first thing that audiences will appreciate from Unblackened is the presentation of the songs that make up the show’s set list. Longtime BLS fans that recall the band’s 2011 semi-acoustic release, The Song Remains Not The Same will get a pretty good idea of what to expect from this show in listening to that record. Much like with that release, the songs included in the set list for this show are not acoustic. Rather, they are toned down by and large from their heavier original forms. In other cases, the songs have been re-tooled and made even more beautiful and moving from their already “slower” state as Wylde himself stated of them in the recording’s bonus interview. Wylde said himself in an interview some years ago that a song doesn’t have to be heavy and crunching to be heavy. He has proven that time and again since then. This latest performance is just the latest way in which he has proven that, too. They also prove that it’s okay for even the toughest people to have a softer side. Speaking of that softer side, the show itself presents a softer side of both Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society. It’s another reason for any BLS fan to check out this live DVD and Blu-ray.
The songs chosen for the set list in this show are a big reason for the show’s success. But there is still more to take into consideration in evaluating this recording. The show itself is another factor to take into consideration. Just as the songs in the show have been toned down and re-tooled, so has the show itself to reflect that altered vibe of the songs. Just as Wylde and company prove that songs can be heavy without being HEAVY, the set itself proves that a show can be powerful without pryo, and all of the other standards that go with typical hard rock shows. It’s really a wonderful experience to behold even in watching from home on DVD or Blu-ray. That’s especially the case in watching the emotion in Zakk’s eyes as he sings ‘In This River’ and ‘I Thank You Child.’ The home video that accompanies this song makes it an even more emotional moment. Watching Zakk’s reaction to seeing his younger self with his daughter will bring a tear to anyone’s eye. It’s just one of so many wonderful moments shared throughout the concert. And it’s just one more reason that this is such an incredible performance.
The songs and the overall concert itself are both factors that make Unblackening a must have for any BLS fan. Fans will also appreciate the bonus interview and solo performance from Zakk included in the recording. The interview is broken up into short segments that are bookended by mini-segments of the main concert. The “interview” segments are so enjoyable because fans get to see just how down to earth Zakk is. This critic has had the honor of personally interviewing Zakk many years ago. And the man presented in these segments is the man that this critic interviewed. He is easygoing. None of his comments are meant to be taken with much seriousness. It’s a great chance for fans to see this side of Zakk especially if they hadn’t seen this side of the veteran guitarist and vocalist before. The home video of his solo performance at HM Prison in the UK is just as enjoyable as his “interview” segments. It is a home video of sorts. So audiences shouldn’t expect the audio to be expert level. But it’s still a wonderful experience because it shows just one more side of Zakk that perhaps audiences might not usually get to see. Together with the aforementioned “interview” segments and the main feature, it makes the whole of Unblackened another great live recording from Eagle Rock Entertainment and Black Label Society. It is available now on CD, DVD, and Blu-ray. More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eaglerockent.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.