On Unblackened, Zakk Wylde works to blend his Jekyll & Hyde sensibilities while expanding the band's sound with new textures.

Black Label Society
E1 Music

There are two sides to Zakk Wylde: the mad, swaggering Viking shredder and the sensitive crooner who isn’t afraid to sit at the piano and put his heart on his sleeve. On Unblackened, Wylde’s latest live album with Black Label Society, he works to blend these Jekyll & Hyde sensibilities while expanding his sound with new textures. The seated front line (Wylde, plus bassist John DeServio and “evil twin” guitarist Nick Catanese) is a bit unusual for a BLS show, but whatever the band lacks in Slayer-like headbanging they make up for with ample musicianship. “Losing Your Mind,” Wylde’s first single from 1994’s Pride and Glory, reveals just how much groove is in his criminally underrated rhythm playing. On “Takillya (Estyabon),” Wylde even pays homage to Al Di Meola with burning nylon-string runs. This is the sound of a shredder shedding labels and following his muse.

Must-hear track: "The Blessed Hellride"

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Luthier Maegen Wells recalls the moment she fell in love with the archtop and how it changed her world.

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Fender Player Plus Meteora HH


After many decades of sticking with flagship body shapes, Fender spent the last several years getting more playful via their Parallel Universe collection. The Meteora, however, is one of the more significant departures from those vintage profiles. The offset, more-angular profile was created by Fender designer Josh Hurst and first saw light of day as part of the Parallel Universe Collection in 2018. Since then, it has headed in both upscale and affordable directions within the Fender lineup—reaching the heights of master-built Custom Shop quality in the hands of Ron Thorn, and now in this much more egalitarian guise as the Player Plus Meteora HH.

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