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Zakk Wylde, main madman and Ozzy's right hand man, has returned with yet another edition from the main chapter of the Black Label Society, and this release picks up where 1919 ETERNAL left off. 11 tracks of whiskey soaked, hard rocking guitar heroics is what Zakk knows best, and as always, Mr. Wylde and company take the Southern rock boogie and add a pair of ten-ton testicles on the tail end. From the raucous opener (and kick-ass titled) "Stoned and Drunk", you can only imagine what lies ahead. Well, aside from a slew of tasty riffs that flow right into sinister solos as only the heavy metal Viking can apply, there's a few surprises here as well. Like the Allmans Brothers' influenced acoustic jam that becomes the title track, as well as the piano-laden, country-tinged "Dead Meadow", you'd never peg Zakk for being such a sucker for the mellow sound, yet those that know of his former outfit Pride and Glory have a lot to look forward to here. Oh yeah, there's also a guest appearance on the stomping "Stillborn" by a certain vocalist who has his own reality television series on MTV that is worth the price of the CD alone. By far, THE BLESSED HELLRIDE is Zakk's most definitive release to date, as it displays all of his talents and influences like never before.
- Mike SOS