ATTENTION!!!! Thanks to all the great support for musicians and bands, SUPPORT KICK ASS MUSIC has moved to a new website!!!
Please GO TO ==>> and keep on supporting your favorite KICK ASS artists!!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Black Label Society - Order of the Black - Lenny Vowels

Let's get one thing straight: I love Black Label Society. That includes absolutely everything about them. They are a band that have always been more than just the sum of their individual members. Zakk Wylde has managed to create a band that thrives on its fans as one large community, and it shows in his connections, ties, and friendships with seemingly everyone in the hard rock industry, from Ozzy Osbourne to former members of Pantera to the late great Les Paul.

Having been four years removed from their last album, 2006's Shot to Hell, Zakk no longer has his commitments to playing with Ozzy, and now has his own record studio, dubbed “The Bunker”, which was used to record Order of the Black. Armed with new drummer Will Hunt after longtime recruit Craig Nunemacher left the band, Black Label Society has set out to do what they've always been amazing at doing: bringing the fans to their knees with the power of rock n' roll.

The record starts off with the flangeriffic “Crazy Horse.” With the cry of “Crazy Horse, I am,” Zakk brings the Society back with a vengeance, with awesome guitar soloing skills still intact. But really, who expected anything less from His Wyldeness? The follow-up track “Overlord” is a bit slower at first, but really picks up after a minute or so with the trademark Label sound. Feel free to laugh your ass off at the awesome vaudeville-like ending, however.

The first single from the album, “Parade of the Dead,” sounds distinctly familiar to one of my BLS favorites in “Concrete Jungle” (off of Shot to Hell). Unlike its gloomy inspiration piece, “Parade of the Dead” is quite a bit faster and thrashes like there's no tomorrow with little remorse. It's certainly enough to set it apart. The scarcely-used piano also makes its first appearance on the album in “Darkest Days” to give us listeners a ballad not unlike “In This River” from 2005's Mafia. “Black Sunday” likewise brings the awesome with a Van Halen-style tune-up for an intro.

The metal continues with “Southern Dissolution” before the piano makes its return for “Time Waits For No One.” Is it just me, or does Zakk seem to have a penchant for writing piano-based songs for those times when he loses the ones he loves? It seems like it's just as good an outlet as any, though maybe a bit predictable. The thrash returns with “Godspeed Hellbound,” which is probably my favorite drum track on the entire album. Afterwords, the ever-awesome “War of Heaven” starts with a slower Trendkill-era Pantera guitar riff before settling on a creepster vibe not unlike anything you'd hear from an earlier Alice in Chains record.

The 88 keys make another appearance in “Shallow Grave,” though it's probably the best song that puts them to use on this album. Maybe it's because of the violins, or maybe it's the subject matter. Either way, it's great, and speaking of which, “Chupacabara” is an absolute beast. It sounds like Zakk's attempt to emulate the Van Halen masterpiece “Spanish Fly,” thereby creating his own notable work of art. It's so blazingly fast that it doesn't even sound like it could possibly be one guitar.

The final stretch of the album starts promisingly with “Riders of the Damned,” a thrashfest that takes a short piano break in the center, before unloading with a fierce solo on its way to the close. The finale, “January,” may not seem very fitting for a closer, but given the sentimentality, it just isn't fair to argue either. As chronicled in my recent interview with Zakk Wylde for 411, his father passed away in January of this year, and this song was written in his memory. Even aside from that, it's a beautiful acoustic ballad that should be considered among the best for remembering a lost family member, even though it may not be an instant classic.

Track Listing

1. Crazy Horse - 4:04 Preview
2. Overlord - 6:05
3. Parade of the Dead - 3:36
4. Darkest Days - 4:17
5. Black Sunday - 3:23
6. Southern Dissolution - 4:56
7. Time Waits for No One - 3:36
8. Godspeed Hell Bound - 4:43
9. War of Heaven - 4:09
10. Shallow Grave - 3:37
11. Chupacabra - 0:49
12. Riders of the Damned - 3:23
13. January – 2:21

Recommended Tracks: “Parade of the Dead,” “War of Heaven,” “Chupacabra,” “January.”

The 411: Black Label Society is back, baby! It's been way too long since they've done anything of note, but Order of the Black shows that Zakk and his crew certainly haven't lost their step. My only small complaint was that there was maybe a bit too much piano for my liking. I love the use of it, but one or two songs would've been just fine, while three and a half or so was overkill. The rest of the album is a crunchy metal record of epic proportions, and I can't wait to hear the follow-up. Until then, make mine Black Label.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  8.5   [ Very Good ]  legend

No comments:

Post a Comment