Another solid and effective heavy rock album

Now eight albums in, Zakk Wylde has well and truly established Black Label Society as a band that can be relied upon for consistency.

You pretty much know what you’re going to get from BLS and Order of the Black doesn’t disappoint. The shape of the band may change slightly every so often, but the style of the music rarely does. In all fairness though, while overall the album sounds the way you’d expect even after the four-year gap since Shot to Hell, Wylde does throw in a few surprises now and then, adding a nice little twist here and a touch there, to keep up the interest factor.

Rock-out opener “Crazy Horse” is a clear indication that all the standard Black Label Society factors are in place: the massive bottom-heavy grooves, pinch harmonic-infested sludge-ridden riffs and Wylde’s bourbon-soaked gravel pit vocals. As stated, all is as you would expect, right down to the lyrical obsession with damnation and doom and there’s simply no end to the amount of downright catchy, groovy riffs that Wylde can come up with. And of course his instinctively soulful soloing remains a highlight. Mix in the usual sprinkling of piano ballads like “Darkest Days” and “Time Waits for No One” and Order of the Black is as consistent as anything from the Black Label Society catalogue, with huge, booming drums from newcomer Will Hunt.

Yet Wylde can still manage to throw a nice curveball, as he does in “Godspeed Hellbound” when the viciously chopping riff seamlessly segues into a dark acoustic bridge augmented with strings and thunderous, rolling drums ahead of the solo. On “Chupacabra” he breaks out into a brief burst of multi-tracked Spanish guitar picking and the local release is rounded out by a surprisingly heartfelt version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. It’s moments like this that remind one what a remarkable talent Zakk Wylde is, an unapologetically old-school rocker who is nonetheless unafraid to show a more vulnerable side amidst all the overdriven bravado. Order of the Black is another solid and effective heavy rock album from a band that has rarely failed to deliver.

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
14.       Bridge Over Troubled Water