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Black Label Society: Order Of The Black

By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal

Release Date: August 10th, 2010
Record Label: E1 Metal

My rating points:

    Track Listing:
  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. Chupacatra
  12. Riders Of The Damned
  13. January

Recorded in frontman Zakk Wylde's all new home recording studio, Black Label Society's eighth studio album, the first under the E1 label, is releasing soon. A lot has changed since their previous effort 'Shot To Hell' which released in 2006. Zakk parted ways with Ozzy Osbourne, drummer Craig Nunenmacher left the band and Evanescence drummer Will Hunt is making his BLS debut. While 'Shot To Hell' was a more than decent effort appreciated by fans and critics alike, this one has taken longer than any of the other seven, and promises to be a step ahead of them.

'Crazy Horse' is a straightforward rock tune, typical of the signature BLS style, which normally means uncomplicated lyrics delivered through clean yet solid vocals and mid-tempo music interspersed with pinch harmonics, along with some very enjoyable guitar solos. While listening to this song I can tell that Zakk is doing a variety of things within the solo, including finger-tapping and wah effects. 'Overlord' interests me a lot. The rhythm is more like that of a typical stoner or sludge metal song, only turned heavier in this case, while the solo reminds me of Black Sabbath's 'Children of the Grave'. Throw in your usual BLS elements that I just talked about for the previous track, and you have all the ingredients for a truly rocking tune.

'Parade Of The Dead' cranks it up a few notches in terms of tempo and should be a killer live song. The slow interlude highlights the guitar solo, giving the listener the chance to fully enjoy it. It's a good thing that this is the single off of the album, which means they'll almost certainly play it on upcoming tours. Just like on the previous few albums, Zakk's piano is featured in this album as well, on the slow and mellow 'Darkest Days'. Although it provides the required variation and depth to the album, I highly doubt it would turn out to be as memorable as past gems like 'In This River' and 'Damage Is Done'. A ripping guitar solo fires things up again to kick off 'Black Sunday', which then settles down into a perfectly likeable tune that goes well with the overall vibe of the album. 'Southern Dissolution' on the other hand, isn't as lively, and is rather reminiscent of 'Black Mass Reverends', a song on the previous album.

The piano is back with 'Time Waits For No One' and compared to 'Darkest Days', the lyrics, vocals as well as the music on piano and guitar leave much more of an impact. The slowest song on the record is followed by one of the fastest, 'Godspeed Hellbound'. In addition to being a flat out rocker for the most part, this one boasts of a delightful acoustic segment. 'War Of Heaven' slows things down while keeping it heavy. As in pretty much every song here, the guitar solo is the standout element. 'Shallow Grave' is another ballad-type song laden with a combination of deep vocals and piano. Even though it's decent in itself, I can't help but feel that the album has one ballad too many.

'Chupacatra' will certainly catch the listener by surprise. In an effort to maintain the surprise element, all I'd say about this one is, it's a purist's delight and there are only two other tracks of this kind on the entire BLS catalog. 'Riders Of The Damned' is a pretty generic BLS tune and bar the little piano piece, it wouldn't hold a candle to any of the other tracks here. Just when you'd have hoped for one last piece of music that would blow your mind, the album comes to a rather anti-climactic end with 'January'.

Musically and metaphorically, the album has its highs and lows. 'Parade Of The Dead', 'Overlord', 'Time Waits For No One', 'Godspeed Hellbound' and 'Chupacatra' should achieve instant success while 'Crazy Horse' and 'Black Sunday' are likeable.

To sum it up, BLS have surpassed their previous effort with this one and have come up with some very enjoyable tunes. A very solid, yet at times intricate hard rock album.

To buy the CD and for more information, check out their official website.

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