Hidden Jewel Case

Diehard fans of Zakk Wylde's metal catalogue probably won't admit it, but Book of Shadows is the best album he's ever recorded.

It's clear from the opening strums on "Between Heaven and Hell" that this is a very different record than anything Wylde had previously attempted. Instead of recreating the Southern rock of his short-lived band, Pride & Glory, or applying his training from the Prince of Darkness School of Metal, Wylde crafted a beautiful acoustic rock album while showcasing considerable songwriting ablility.

"Sold My Soul," which carries a sinister edge, is the album's best. But the mellower highlights are numerous, including the exquisitely sung "Way Beyond Empty" and despondent piano ballad, "Too Numb To Cry."