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Black Label Society – Order of the Black: Review

Black Label Society’s latest album was released on August 12, and is entitled Order of the Black. No doubt, it will be a welcome release for fans of the band. For those who do not know, BLS is fronted by former Ozzy guitarist, Zakk Wylde. With this effort, he has demonstrated his musical independence, surpassing Ozzy’s latest creation (Scream) in every way, although that is not a bold statement.  

  

 

The Music (rating: B)

  1. Crazy Horse
  2. Overlord
  3. Parade of the Dead
  4. Darkest Days
  5. Black Sunday
  6. Southern Dissolution
  7. Time Waits for No One
  8. Godspeed Hellbound
  9. War of Heaven
  10. Shallow Grave
  11. Chupacabra
  12. Riders of the Damned
  13. January

From what I have heard from BLS (which is honestly not too much), this is loyal to their typical sound. It shares some similarities with later Ozzy material (such as Black Rain). However, as I stated earlier, Order of the Black is much better than that. Compared to the modern-day metal scene, it is rather light, sitting on the fence that divides metal from rock. Still, it is a heavily riff-based album, giving guitar-driven songs with a hard rock/metal attitude.  

But this album does not offer much outside of the “hard rock/metal” sector. It does not at all lack inspiration; “Overlord” is very naturally fluent and well-constructed. The issue is that most of what the album gives is rather limited to its genre. Order of the Black is still a good album, but rather one-dimensional. There are some softer ballads as well as some more metallic rockers, but both are done with (and for) a similar mindset. For someone who likes groovy hard rock/metal, this is a heaven-sent gift. But for those who are not as specific in their musical tastes, this may be a passable album.  

Other than style, the only other significantly appreciable aspect of the album is the guitar. The guitar is, with absolute certainty, Wylde’s primary and most expertise instrument. He gives some great riffs consistently throughout the album, and his solos are very impressive (especially “Chupacabra”). What stands out most is his signature use of pinch harmonics, which many new-age guitarists tend to follow in a less striking manner. Wylde makes no attempt to hide his remarkable guitarist talents in this release.  

But the remaining instruments are only there as support for the guitar, and none are able to hold their own ground. The vocals remind me of Ozzy, in that the tone shares similarities and the range and phrasing-style are also somewhat alike. Nothing overly outstanding is done regarding the singing. The drummer often gives standard beats, allowing listeners to groove to a simple rhythm while attending to the guitar. And finally, the bass is merely an intermediary between the drums and guitar. None of these instruments did any wrong per say, but they also did not go out of their way to make themselves a notable presence.  

My listen to Order of the Black was an enjoyable experience, albeit somewhat shallow. This is not an album with lasting replay value, but it is one that I would recommend for a good one-time listen. For guitarists, this is definitely a likable album that showcases Wylde’s talent on the particular instrument. However, aside from guitarists and hard rocker fans, there is not many who will find this album overly spectacular. It is rather strictly geared towards a specific audience, which is good in some ways but bad in others. Those who include themselves in this population should give the record a listen. The remainder can live without this particular hour of happiness.

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  1. ruben
    August 22, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    zakk

  2. ruben
    August 22, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    hey golden bird u are a dud. zakk is a talented musician who has spread his wings on this album. my brother heard it yesterday and is now a black label fan. i will be there when he rocks corpus christi to the ground.hey zakk rock on and thank u for your great music. i also love shot to hell…

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