Zakk Wylde is an easy target for anyone who wants to criticize the heavy metal/hard rock guitar stereotype. But the guy is obviously for real - he's no stereotype, he's an archetype, and for anyone who appreciates pull-out-all-the-stops rock guitar, he is the complete package. This DVD is the single best produced hard rock concert video I've seen. The band manages to be raw and polished at the same time - not an easy trick. This is an improvement over "Boozed Broozed & Broken Boned" in every way - and that was a glorious sonic assault.
Zakk has obviously paid attention to his critics and has made a few changes without selling out at all. He relies far less on pinch harmonics in his guitar work, he's toned down the stage profanity which was previously far overdone, the band is tight and well rehearsed, the audience participation is used to best possible effect, the set list draws on his strongest Black Label Society material, and he's even increased his already-exceptional prowess on his instrument. The acrobat has a few new stunts!
The "intro jam" sets the tone well, opening with the band attacking their instruments, and they don't let up. It's not until the first pause comes in "Been A Long Time" that you realize just how much noise you've been exposed to so far. When this band takes a pause for a beat, it's the most solid proof yet that the note with the most impact is not a note at all - it's silence: the pause. The "Iron Man Interlude" is really just the first few bars of the Sabbath song. It would really be something if Black Label Society took the Dream Theater route and recreated an entire Sabbath album - or just did a set of covers. I'd plop down god money for that.
In This River slows things down a bit and gives Zakk a softer texture to play over. I wouldn't insult the song by calling it a "ballad," it's just a bit lighter than everything that's happened to that point in the Paris concert. Suicide Messiah has what I consider to be the heaviest guitar tone I've heard, and the band has real fun with it. I don't think I've ever seen Zakk smile onstage, but in the postlude to Suicide Messiah he's clearly having real fun and great interaction with Nick Catanese. Just to show the DVD is not "prettied up" in post-production, there's a point in the postlude where Zakk is about to switch pickups and use the pickup switch as a kind of tonal/volume modulation, and the volume on the pickup he switches to is clearly not set right, and he has to make a quick correction. Catanese gives him a bit of a poke for fun when the mistake happens. A nice moment to see between musicians.
The acoustic solo set is very casual, with Zakk just jamming and throwing in some old riffs (including a bar from Pride & Glory's "Machine Gun Man"). A set for true guitar freaks only, as subtlety is the least used weapon in Zakk's arsenal. The set finishes as heavy as it started with Fire It Up, Stillborn and Genocide Junkies. Riffing overkill from start to finish. In addition to the complete concert filmed in Paris, there are 4 tracks taken from a London show - also very strong, but nothing new - different performances of "Been A Long Time," "Suicide Messiah," a take from "Stillborn Jam" and "Genocide Junkies."
Disc two features a better than average road documentary of the band and three videos, but it's the concerts that merit this DVD a 5 star rating.
One thing I thought was very cool - Zakk brings a bunch of people up onstage from the audience at one point and straps his guitar on one of them. The guy actually plays pretty well, and obviously has the time of his life getting the unexpected opportunity to jam with Black Label Society.
Great DVD, a bargain at the MSRP - and please, people, if you haven't seen it please don't comment. The whole 357 group issue is addressed on Zakk's website, and I'm sorry if a few unscrupulous businessmen scammed some Zakk fans, but that has nothing to do with the quality of this DVD.