The loyal readers of this section might know me enough to know I never made it a big secret that I am a big fan of Zakk Wylde / Black Label Society. When we first heard about his new guitar brand Wylde Audio becoming available in the Netherlands it really sparked a thrill in me. Zakk left the stables of Gibson a while ago and now, under the wings of Schecter he has his own brand. A story that roughly compares to that of EvH, which operates under the banner of Fender. In an unmentioned future there will also be amps and pedals, but the guitars me and so many have been looking forward to are finally here. Through Voerman Amersfoort two pieces have been made available for review for me, which are the ODIN Blackout Bullseye (Les Paul) and the WARHAMMER Pelham Blue FR (a cross-breeding between a V and an SG, but Dean fans will also recognize the Split tail).
I set off with the WARHAMMER, a beautiful and awesome piece. This particular one has a Floyd Rose bridge, but also comes fixed if so inclined. Furthermore, the specs are: 22 jumbo frets, 24,625 scale, Grover tuners, Ebony fretboard, Mahogany body and made in South Korea. The pickups is a “regular” EMG 81/85 set and the strings is a set of .010-.046, which is odd because everyone knows Zakk uses a thicker set. There is not much sensation in the specs and especially the EMGs are a somewhat of yesterday’s news. But on the other hand, this is a matter of meeting expectations and why not just as well deliver the best sold setup combination. The guitar itself feels quite nicely, it is built solidly and it sounds fat and proper. The shape may be wild (no pun intended) but it still allows you to play it on your lap without having top inch it in between your legs with the V back. So that is well thought. The paint job is superb, absolutely stunning and despite the fact that this is nothing but safe choices, I have little to no remarks on this guitar. I would strongly recommend a bigger gauge personally, this is not bought by guys who never downtune their axes. Once you have done that little modification, you can plug in and pretend you are Zakk with your Black Label riffs.
The ODIN, which truly feels, sounds and plays like a genuine Gibson Les Paul is quite similar in terms of specs, but without a Floyd Rose tremolo. This was the guitar I saw myself play for quite a while and I would not be ashamed to hit a stage with a guitar with this looks. However, there is an oddity to it. The bullseye print is a matt black body with shiny black rings, but you can literally feel it is another layer and you can even see they are. Yes, from a distance it is stunning and it delivers a mirror-like effect, but good people of Wylde and Schecter, is this what you want to sell? I seriously doubt if this will last with intensive use. The Warhammer (nor the other models) do not have this and this is a disappointment. It looks great, it sounds wonderful, but I would definitely leave this hanging out in the store because of this fact. And it deserves more than that verdict alone.
My conclusion has two sides. The guitars are and sound awesome as they are and on the other hand there is work to be done. Wylde Audio is a great addition to the market and they are very cool. However the Blackout Odin finish is bad and they need to redo that with paint, or not at all. They are no low-budget guitars, they are mid-priced in the US, but quite costly in Europe. For this money you can have a nice Gibson, or an absolutely mind-blowing Schecter, to compare it with those brands. The choice is ultimately your own.