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Released: Aug 10, 2010
Genre: Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
Label: E1 Music, Roadrunner
Number Of Tracks: 13
Zakk Wylde's riff work seems to have been injected with new life on the latest Black Label Society release Order of the Black.
Order Of The Black
UG Team, on august 13, 2010 8 of 8 people found this review helpful
Sound: Thanks to prior commitments like Ozzy Osbourne's Black Rain, four years have passed since Zakk Wylde has unleashed an all new collection of pinch-harmonic goodness via Black Label Society. While the previous BLS release Skullage was lacking in some areas, the newest release Order of the Black proves that Wylde still can dish out stellar riffs every once in awhile with a fresh twist. Let's not go as far as to say that there is much out of character on Order of the Black, but the arrangements do tend to have some surprises along the way. To top it all off, there is one highly intriguing instrumental that doesn't feature Wylde's trusty electric or piano.
The CD begins with a down-tuned, infectious number called Crazy Horse, which just oozes a tight groove. Wylde's trademark vocal style is always the connecting line between each BLS song, and the Aaaahhh yeaaahhh that he utters in each chorus makes Crazy Horse easily memorable. Even more intriguing is the following track Overlord, which begins with some delicious use of the wah. The song even takes an interesting turn smack dab in the middle when the tempo is sped up, eventually returning to its original slower groove. Other highlights include the Hendrix-like intro of Black Sunday and the pinch harmonic extravaganza in Riders of the Damned.
Order of the Black has its fare share of what you might call standard Zakk Wylde balladry. The guitar master is fond of switching to his piano for the more heartfelt, mellow numbers, and the newest release is no different. The up-tempo tracks do seem to have a bit more of a distinctive quality in terms of the musical foundation, but at the same time you get the impression that Wylde is indeed speaking from the heart as soon as he sits down to play the keys.
The most unexpected surprise comes with Chupacabra. What sounds like it is tailor-made to be a furious metal piece is actually more of a flamenco offering. The instrumental is certainly rooted in classical guitar methods, but it's more spastic than most acoustic pieces you might hear. It's short and sweet in the end, but it's engaging from beginning to finish. // 9
Lyrics: Wylde's lyrics tend to fall into two different categories as usual: the heavier music accompanied by gritty, often bigger-than-life themes and the ballads being more introspective. Whether he is declaring himself to be a Crazy Horse or discussing otherworldly topics like those in War of Heaven, Wylde at the very least delves into unique ideas that don't get tossed around on every album. The songwriter pens his most honest, personal content in the ballads, however, so that ends up being the biggest payoff lyrically speaking. // 8
Overall Impression: Black Label Society often tends to be hit or miss with their albums, so you never know what Wylde might have up his sleeve. Thankfully, Order of the Black features a much larger selection of memorable riffs and interesting arrangements in general. Wylde is mixing the compositions up with varied tempos and musical sections in general. While Chupacabra is a slightly frantic approach to classical/flamenco guitar, it's still one of the most fascinating tracks on the CD. In fact, it might just be a preview of the unexpected territory that Wylde will be exploring in the future. // 8
Order Of The Black
Mosh101, on august 31, 2010 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: It's been four years since Black Label Society released an album, and for some it has been a long time; no less for Zakk Wylde who in that time has seen his life change in regards to his personal health and musical prowess as the right hand man of Ozzy Osbourne. Fortunately, neither of these factors has played a damaging role in what can only be described as the mighty re-birthing of arguably one of the greatest guitarists and musicians of our generation.
In Order of the Black, there is a healthy balance and chemistry between the two creative sides which have characterised Black Label Society for over a decade; one is the embodiment of the band which is of pure brutality and the other is the opposite, wherein the musical style drifts elegantly through ballads of retrospect and insight. However, it is also worth note that on this album (like others) there is a welcome instalment of what Zakk Wylde can also produce on an acoustic guitar with the same fundamental ideas he portrays on his electric guitar with the track, Chupacabra'.
The album begins as emphatically as you would expect with a title such as Crazy Horse', which follows with the typically domineering style that is incorporated within Overlord', these songs are certainly a welcome throw back to albums such as 1919 Eternal and Stronger than Death. The album continues to impress with the blistering guitar work contained within Parade of the dead' and then takes a refreshing U-turn by slowing the pace entirely with the track Darkest Days', this formula continues throughout and it would seem that there is no middle ground within this structure, which could be considered one of it's downfalls in that there is no compromise between the musical styles within a song.
The album itself is extremely well produced; there is a beautiful distinction between each instrument and vocal track, giving it a sense of purpose and musical direction that is often over looked, especially in the case of Shallow Grave', where there is a rich tapestry of wonderfully created harmonies and every note having a defining effect on how the song feels.
A critique of this album would be that the album is following a set routine and doesn't stray too far in the way these songs are created, there is nothing that pulls away from the expected especially in terms of the guitar solo's - but then one could also look at this and see that it is also a positive. As they say if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. // 9
Lyrics: Lyrically, Zakk Wylde has always added either a note of sentiment or hidden meaning within his songs; the latter of which often leaves the listener taking their own theories or ideals. The unfortunate truth in his case, however, is that many listeners may feel his talents lie with his guitar and piano, and at times it's not hard to see why as some songs amble on recycling topics that have been of interest in his previous work. His true genius shines through primarily in the softer songs where there is a deeper emphasis on the lyrical input such as in Time Waits for No One'.
There is no fault with the correlation between the music and lyrics because they are crafted for their purpose and serve the song well, the themes themselves keep within the typical parameters of the band and revolve around the familiar sentiments of previous albums and so it would seem as though the evolution in this aspect of his song writing has not really changed. // 6
Overall Impression: There is definitely a good vibe from this album that hasn't been felt for a long time, whether this has anything to do with Black Label Society being Zakk Wylde's priority now is a speculative argument, but with this showing it might not be far from the truth.
The problem with this band is that they never take a step in to the un-chartered; this is a double edged blade in that it is satisfactory for some people but in others they feel they should expect more from someone who could deliver more.
I personally feel that Zakk Wylde's guitar playing is more explosive and dynamic than it has been for a while, the guitar work has the sense of refinement you would expect and the songs are generally structured rather well.
I wouldn't go as far to say this could be considered album of the year but nonetheless it is still a brilliant album and would be welcomed in many people's CD collection. // 8
Order Of The Black
DethbyChocolate, on september 03, 2010 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: How does Zakk Wylde improve perfection? With Order of the Black! This album wreaks of Black Label riffage, and solos, while avoiding stale. Aside from the shredding, there are a number of tracks which Zakk brings out his inner Elton John with wonderful piano licks, and ballads in songs such as "The Shallow Grave." Also, Mr.Wylde shows his flamenco techniques in a song called "Chupacabra." Yet amidst the softer material, the band didn't forget its metal roots. With songs such as "Crazy Horse," and "Parade of the Dead," they satisfy their vast metal audiance once again. This is a must have for Black Label fans, both old and new! // 10
Lyrics: The vocals are classic Black Label. As mentioned before, Zakk brings out his softer side in both music, and singing. The vocals seem a bit more melodic then previous efforts. Other then that, there aren't any really substantial differences in his singing, which in this case, is a plus. // 9
Overall Impression: The album was far from a let-down. While broadening their horizons, they still manage to write great metal riffs. I admit, I was skeptical at first (considering his back ground), but the new drummer really brings a lot to the table. You can really feel, and hear the dedication put into this album. // 9
Order Of The Black
colm c, on september 15, 2010 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Metal tunes washed down with a healthy dose of Rock n Roll sensibilities! What more could you ask for. Black Labels' new offering is a huge improvement on 2006s' Shot To Hell and a return to form for Zakk Wylde. Chunky guitar tone, frantic solo work, catchy sing along choruses coupled with driving bass work and heavy hitting drums. Its a sonic assault but with variety Zakk really knows when to slow it down and break out the piano. The whole album flows well and its kept my attention quite well. All in all its definitely Zakk Wylde but its a more convincing performance in song writing and its a cracking album. // 7
Lyrics: Zakk is always a point of contest whether its his vocal style or his blatant love of pentatonics which is in question. He tailored the band from the beginning to his specifications so he slots into into it as the lynchpin. He just is the music here, its a musical incarnation of a good damn time! He is sounding better than ever and the vocal harmony work is done tastefully and really shows just how well the songs are thought out. // 8
Overall Impression: This is a return to form for Zakk and the Boys and its a welcome addition to my collection especially after Shot To Hell was so disappointing. The riffing is great, the songs move well, its varied and you wont be looking at your watch! Its good time music and that one of the problems. I can't see this becoming a classic or anything.. Black Label just seems like that one great party. Try to replicate it and it's just not gonna be as good! Check this out definitely but really The Blessed Hellride is the seminal record. // 7