Black Label Society: 'Angel Of Mercy' Guitar Solo Lesson With Chris Zoupa

Standard tuning: E A D G B E

Level: Intermediate - Advanced

The first time I heard the solo in "Angel of Mercy" was a pretty emotional experience. I'm pretty sure I was looking out the window, it was raining and I'd just learned a valuable life lesson that was narrated to me by the voice over guy from "The Wonders Years." This solo is of course not without it's fist raising speed and out of context shredding that Zakk Wylde is know for... but deep down that is why we all love him.

The scales used in this solo are mostly "A" minor pentatonics and there's a few "A" Aeolian moments. It's really important to keep the phrasing on bends, slides and vibratos as emotional as possible. A small swell of Wah (Wah Pedal) can be very helpful in aiding the tear jerking emotion that we're looking for. As usual we'll break the solo down into problematic sections. I'll leave a tab for the solo and a link to the YouTube lesson at the bottom of the article.

Section 1 Tips

The first section sounds like your typical rock ballad solo, but Zakk unleashes a pretty aggressive pentatonic shred of face melting goodness. Let's take a look at it (see excerpt below).

This is super tough to get up to speed. As you can see we start in demiquavers and then work into triplet demiquavers. 2 note per string shredding can feel weird but it's actually pretty cool once you get your head around it. If you need a bit more practice building pentatonic shred speed check out this old lesson of mine.

Section 2 Tips

This section has a really nicely paced emotional legato lick that ends in a ben with a tap. Let's look at the lick (see excerpt below).

The legato lick before the tap is relatively slow and manageable. Just before the tap make sure you get a nice, in tune full tone bend so that when you add the tap on the 11th fret, the pitch of the tapped not is in tune. Try implementing some bends with taps to your play. It looks cool but can also be quite melodic, heart felt and most importantly fist raisingly (not a real word) emotional.

Section 3 Tips

The 3rd section has a really cool lick using string skips. It uses octaves and sevenths (see excerpt below).

This is a great lick to practice string skips and larger intervals in your soloing. Keep an eye on the triplet semiquavers ending on quavers. The timing is great and crucial to making this lick win.

Section 5 Tips

The final section has some fast 2 string legatoed pentatonics. Let's take a look at the most troublesome bars of the lick (see excerpt below).

This is a really cool lick to increase speed and fretting hand strength. Keep in mind that although this lick is mostly using demiquavers/thirty second notes that the BPM of the song is pretty slow, thus you don't need to be a ninja on crack to play this. I really enjoy the sound this kind of lick creates, and it's also really nice to hear Zakk not doing aggressive staccato pentatonic shred for a change.

Have fun with this one guys and happy shredding!

Download tab here.

By Chris Zoupa


Ashutosh Pande
Ashutosh Pande

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