JAM Magazine CD Review

September , 2010
Review by Mike DiQuinzio

Black Label Society

"Order Of The Black "

Label: E1 Music

I’ll admit for selfish reasons, I was pretty crushed when news surfaced that Zakk Wylde would no longer be playing guitar for Ozzy Osbourne. So, instead of experiencing two separate recordings of Zakk’s remarkable playing this year, I was only going to get one. So yeah, it had better kick some major ass. Rest assured after one listen, Order of the Black fulfills that wish and more.

The opening track is called “Crazy Horse” and it sets the tone for the entire album. It starts off with that unmistakable fat guitar tone fans have come to expect from any music bearing the name Wylde. Its E-string chug takes about three seconds to get your blood pumping, and by the time the full band enters the picture – accompanied by the first guitar squeal of the album – you’re in full head-banging mode. And that’s only the first song. Every moment of every tune on this recording kills. In particular, “Parade of the Dead” and “Riders of the Damned” have such fat grooves it’s impossible not to nod along to them.

“Chupacabra” is a “Spanish Fly”-ish guitar solo clocking in at only forty-nine seconds, but it’s time well spent as Zakk shreds on the acoustic before the album draws to a close.

The best song on Order of the Black has to be “Godspeed Hellbound”. It opens with a riff that’s as close to “Miracle Man” as Zakk’s been since he recorded Ozzy’s No Rest for the Wicked over twenty years ago. Credit also has to be given to new drummer Will Hunt, who gives an amazing machine gun effect to his boss’ already heavy-as-hell riffs.

Arguably the hardest working man in metal, Zakk Wylde seems more focused on Order of the Black than on some of his previous work. Retiring from his duties with Ozzy seems to have centered the six-string master more so on this project as opposed to other Black Label Society recordings. That’s not to say the guitar work on Black Label albums was ever sub-par, but now that Zakk can concentrate all his energy into one project, it definitely shows up here.

Order of the Black is as true to the BLS brand as anything that came before it. Hopefully it will be the start of a bold new direction for the band. It definitely stands proud alongside Stronger than Death and The Blessed Hellride, and sets the tone for bigger and better things to come out the band in the future. Go ahead and listen, I dare you. You’ll be nodding your head in no time, whether you realize it or not.