Released: August 10, 2010
Every Black Label Society record is highly anticipated, but with Order of the Black being Zakk Wylde’s first since his departure as Ozzy’s guitarist, there seemed to be a bit more hanging on the outcome.
From the crunching grind of the album opener “Crazy Horse,” BLS delivers in signature fashion. Order of the Black is a well-crafted blend of all the elements that we have come to love from Wylde and Co. The epic guitar work, Zakk’s soulful voice, and a myriad of musical influences and styles all ground together to create something spectacular, both classic and fresh.
Listen to “Crazy Horse”:
Zakk, and bassist John DeServio, did the hunker-in-the-bunker to record the band’s 8th record. Wylde’s new in-home studio gave him the freedom to really get his hands dirty on this one, and he laid it all out for the fans. Longtime drummer Craig Nunenmacher handed over skin duties on this record to former and Evanescence drummer Will Hunt.
The album’s second track, “Overlord,” kicks off with a fun, cheesy ’70s soundtrack wah wah vibe; you can almost picture Huggy Bear doing his strut down the boulevard in wide-brim hat and platform shoes. But that only lasts a moment before the song drops into a heavy, NOLA-esque sludge groove. There is a Black Sabbath-inspired breakdown during the song’s wickedly delightful guitar solo. While I won’t give away the ending, I will tell you there is nothing wrong with Zakk’s sense of humor.
Listen to “Overlord”:
The album’s first single, “Parade of the Dead,” is up next and is filled with classic BLS guitar and grind. Nothing not to love here.
Listen to “Parade of the Dead”:
Zakk slows it down on “Darkest Days,” a piano opus, nicely layered and appropriately moody and angsty.
“Black Sunday” returns Zakk to his fiery guitar work and trademark headbanging whiskey-soaked sound.
The album gets into the grunge on “Southern Dissolution,” with a ballsy stewed and brewed swagger. Again I hear a classic Sabbath vibe on the pre-solo breakdown.
Wylde takes to the keys again for the aching and bluesy ballad “Time Waits For No One,” which gives listeners just enough time to catch their breath before the band puts the hammer down on “Godspeed Hellbound.”
“War of Heaven” is yet another convincing heavy dose of metal mayhem, and a valid argument that Ozzy’s success over the last two decades had as much to do with Zakk’s presence as the monarch of mumble himself.
The album’s third piano ballad is “Shallow Grave.” While I’m sure many rockers will complain about the number of slower tracks, I find it refreshing to hear the unique elements that make Zakk the songwriter that he is. There is plenty of metal density on the record, and the ballads give the album a fuller feel.
The record’s most notable surprise is the flamenco guitar style interlude of “Chupacatra,” which leads into one of the album’s heaviest rockers, “Riders of the Damned,” which has an ambient piano interlude prior to Zakk’s solo. In all it may be the album’s most generic track, but still hefty.
To close the album out, Zakk bares his soul in an acoustic ode to his father, “January,” which signifies the month of his passing.
In all Order of the Black offers something for all the berserkers out there. The album is a formidable hunk of hard rock and blazing metal fretwork with appropriate moments of tenderness and soulful depth.