Black Label Society – “Angel Of Mercy”: Hard Rock Daddy Review

Zakk Wylde - Black Label Society - Angel Of Mercy

There are two distinct, yet complementary, sides to Zakk Wylde and the music that he creates.  I’ve always appreciated his signature heavy guitar sound, but through the years, I think that I’ve grown to love his more emotive, slow-tempo songs even more.  As much as I love his guitar playing, there is something about his unique, southern-style, raspy vocals that I am drawn to, which is why his 2013 release, Unblackened, was a great album for me.  Sadly, the Hard Rock Daddy album review of Unblackened was never completed…

On this day last year, I received a very anxious, almost panic-stricken phone call from my mom.  The time was 3:24pm.  I only know the exact time because when I went to look at the partially completed album review this morning, I saw the last time that the file was updated.

For those of you who were looking for a typical song review, I apologize for veering off course a bit, but I’m sure that many of you can appreciate the power that music has on you in times of sorrow.  This is one time where a personal story seems appropriate.

I met Zakk a few months after he joined Ozzy (see full story), and then again years later while working for Billboard Magazine.  He had just re-issued Book Of Shadows on Spitfire Records.  It is a lesser-known album that is arguably my favorite of his to this day.  Along with two of my friends who ran the label, my wife and I joined Zakk (after he came up to Billboard Magazine) for a side-splitting Mexican dinner in Times Square (a story for another day).

Getting back to the album review that was never completed…

Needless to say, I was thrilled to see four tracks from Book Of Shadows featured on Unblackened, because I am a huge fan of anything that Zakk does live.  When I got the call from my mom, I had just written the following paragraph…

“Although many fans may not realize it, Wylde has revealed his gritty, stripped down, southern rock side before with his 1996 solo album, Book Of Shadows.  A number of songs from the album appear on Unblackened (“Sold My Soul,”“Road Back Home,” “Throwin’ It All Away,” “I Thank You Child”).”

That is as far as the review went.  The last words that I typed (after speaking to my panic-stricken mom) were “I Thank You Child.”

I had no idea at the time, that a phone call that ended somewhat abruptly because of a bad connection, would be the last time that my mom and I would ever speak.  The test that she feared taking forced her into emergency surgery that led to complications.  Less than a week later, she was shockingly gone from our lives, and I couldn’t bear the thought of finishing the review that was interrupted during our last conversation.

In some ways, a year feels like a long time, but in other ways, it feels like it went by in the blink of an eye.  I remember my last phone call, and all of the heartbreaking moments that followed, as if it happened yesterday.

As fitting as it seems that the last words written of an unfinished album review (during my final conversation with my mom) were “I Thank You Child,” it is equally fitting that I actually complete a review for a Zakk Wylde song entitled “Angel Of Mercy” on this sad anniversary, so here goes…

The powerful, black and white video begins with some appropriately haunting images as the melancholic guitar introduction is played, before Zakk’s beautiful vocals reach into your soul.

It’s been nearly two decades since the release of Book Of Shadows.  For the most part, Black Label Society’s music is much heavier than that album, but “Angel Of Mercy” feels like it could be a lost track from 1996.  The first time that I heard it, I was brought back to happier times of yesteryear, even though the song is actually very sad.

“Angel Of Mercy” features the best of everything that Zakk Wylde has to offer, and for very personal reasons, it will always be one of my favorite songs of his.  His unique singing style captures the dark emotions of the lyrics, as does his shredding solo where he makes the double neck guitar sing like few others can.

On this day, you would think that the last thing that I would want to see in a music video is an evocative, black and white cemetery scene, but the beauty of the song has an unexplainable cathartic quality to it.

The poignant lyrics to “Angel Of Mercy” appear below the video.  They have brought me comfort in a time a great pain, and for that, I will always be thankful to Zakk Wylde.  And while the moment has clearly passed for a timely album review, I would highly recommend Unblackened to all Zakk Wylde fans.

“ANGEL OF MERCY” LYRICS

I woke alone today
For all the birds have flown
Inside this empty house
Which no longer feels like home

No angel of mercy
Is gonna hear my call (lord no)
No angel of mercy
To dry the tears that shall not fall

I woke alone today
Admidst life’s killing fields of war
Door of memories
Closed forevermore

No angel of mercy
Is gonna hear my call (lord no)
No angel of mercy
To dry the tears that shall not fall

No angel of mercy
Is gonna hear my call (lord no)
No angel of mercy
To dry the tears that shall not fall

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About AW

Hard rock journalist and father of two amazing rock and roll children.

Posted on October 4, 2014, in Hard Rock Daddy Reviews, In Memoriam, Songs and Videos and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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