The Wylde Man Cometh By: Mike Knicely

After getting the boot from Ozzy in June of 2009, Guitarist Zakk Wylde could have laid down his guitar and faded into obscurity, however the self-proclaimed “hardest working man in metal” is having none of that. Never one to sit on his hands, Wylde immediately entered the studio with long time side project Black Label Society, the Result is an unrelenting, sonic maelstrom entitled Order of the Black.

As the highly anticipated follow-up to the 2006 release Shot to Hell, the album is a triumphant return to classic Black Label form. Order of the Black is a healthy dosage of heavy, aggressive, balls-out Biker Rock, however it is far from your run of the mill metal album. While there are the typical crushing riffs, raging harmonics, and skyscraping guitar solos, the album is as diverse as it is heavy. Zakk Wylde and company refuse to me limited by genre restrictions, unafraid to venture across the metal boundaries in to the areas of blues, southern rock, and even soft rock ballads.

The album kicks off in high gear with the fist pumping “Crazy Horse” a mid tempo track highlighted by groove oriented rhythms and bluesy down tuned guitar chops. The mayhem continues on with the satisfyingly thrashy single “Parade of the Dead,” characterized by fast hooky riffs, spitfire vocals, groovy breakdowns, and a jaw-dropping blues solo; “Parade of the Dead” is debatably the highpoint of the album. Immediately following is the soulful ballad “Darkest Days,” which drops the tempo down a few notches. It makes up for what it lacks in aggression with pure heartfelt emotion, carried by beautiful piano accompaniment. The album keeps rolling on in a fashion that is undeniably epic. Each song taking the listener on a sonic roller coaster ride found on few other records.

With “Order of the Black,” BLS serve up a massive portion of the heavy metal pie, making it  clear that they are taking no prisoners. It is apparent that they are indeed deserving of their  position at the forefront of the heavy metal crowd. With an army of “berserkers,” as their  fans are often called, at their backs; Zakk Wylde and the Black Label Society have proved  that they are here to stay. Look for them rolling into a city near you.

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