In a world of pretenders and fashion statements, Zakk Wylde represents what heavy metal is all about in so many ways. His command presence on stage is adorned with long hair, leather, and a guitar that speaks through amplifier stacks louder than words can describe, all bathed in an eternally flowing river of beer. But damn, do we really need another BLACK LABEL SOCIETY product on the market?
Of course, now that Zakk's act is on Roadrunner, Eagle Vision is packaging the back catalogue in different wrapping paper. Not that "Skullage" isn't a product with some worthwhile material; it is just so unnecessary. The centerpiece is the 115-minute DVD, which includes live performances of "Spoke in the Wheel" from the "Doom Troopin: European Invasion" DVD and a trio of tunes ("All for You", "13 Years of Grief", and "Bleed for Me") from the excellent performance at Detroit's Harpo's captured on the "Boozed Broozed & Broken-Boned" DVD. Good stuff, but it's already available, as is the collection of music videos. However, the super cool video for "Fire it Up" does deserve mention for its outrageous end-times scenario.
As for the interview segment ("Welcome to the Compound"), the discussions with Zakk in his home about the inspiration for several of his songs are moderately informative, while his banter about his doll collection and the goofy segments of him wearing a dress and retreating to his "dark place" just aren't that funny. That said the video footage of Wylde spending time with brother-in-arms Dimebag Darrell is touching, as is Zakk's discussion of "In this River", his tribute to the late guitar great.
The DVD highlight is a segment called "Slightly Amped", an acoustic performance in Lehigh Valley that features heartfelt renditions of "The Blessed Hellride", "Spoke in the Wheel", "We Live no More", and "Stillborn". Zakk's performance of these songs is downright beautiful.
Accompanying the DVD is another best-of CD that may elicit arguments over the inclusion of certain songs over others, but if you own "Kings of Damnation: Era 1998-2004", then the new collection is another unnecessary addition to the catalogue, regardless of the fact that the track selection isn't exactly the same. The exception is the audio set from the "Slightly Amped" session, although it hardly makes it worth the purchase of the individual CD for the retail price of $13.98.
Even at a DVD/CD "Collector's Edition" price of $24.98, I'd still recommend purchasing "Boozed, Broozed & Broken Boned" if you want to the get the full BLS live treatment or the "Kings of Damnation: Era 1998-2004" CD is you want a representative audio sampling. None of the aforementioned criticism is a reflection of the actual material included here, as we all know that Wylde has penned some bullshit-free face blazers over the years, but that's not really the point. The point to which I refer is that while "Skullage" wouldn't be a bad way for the virgins to find out about BLS in audio and visual formats, it is probably best left to the completists.