I consider Zakk Wylde one of the three best guitar players the last two decades. Not only he managed to save Ozzy Osbourne’s career, but also refreshed his sound as much as he could. Noone else could fill the large gap of Randy Rhoads like he did. On the other hand, the last decade, judging as a fan, and especially after Black Label Society emerged, I always felt that Zakk had closed his circle with Ozzy. In addition, I always considered that BLS are held back a lot because of this and they could become even larger in status. After 23 years, Zakk is with Ozzy no more and this result reflects on his new album called ”Order Of The Black”, which happens to be the best since the 2003 release ”The Blessed Hellride”.

That doesn’t mean that Zakk was releasing crappy stuff. Not at all, it just didn’t feel like pure Black Label Society. ”Mafia” was the album that brought much recognition to the band, with extensive touring and maybe the best shape of the band ever, but as an album it had many fillers. ”Hangover Music Vol. VI” was a special release, 100% acoustic, and despite having many personal moments of Zakk, it’s not what BLS fans would like to listen at that moment of time. Things got a little better with ”Shot To Hell” but again, there were songs that Zakk could write in just 5 minutes. ”Order Of The Black” came to set things right, to bring back this southern feeling, and to show that the new line – up could stand as equal to the previous one.

This time Zakk did what he knows best. The album is full of energy and the first three songs win the game from the very beginning, without even the referee give the start. ”Crazy Horse” is a great initial song that puts you straight to the climate of what follows, being one of the first two singles of the album. The other one is ”Parade Of The Dead” which was the first sample of the album, and when we heard it we all started smiling and believing we’re going to have something really good. There was no mistake about that, some things show from the beginning after all. The trademark riffs with the familiar guitar whistle are here again, more than the last seven years. The solos are straight from the chest of Zakk’s treasure and all seems bright.

Of course, there couldn’t be an unbalanced release with only riffmachine tunes, but we also have some great ballads such as ”Darkest Days”, ”Time Waits For No One” and ”Shallow Grave”. Zakk’s voice may stink booze and American South from one kilometre range, but that can’t just distract us from the feeling that when he gets more emotional and sounding more personal, he does miracles. On the other hand, the reason we love Black Label Society was that feeling from the beginning that they were an uncompromising act that just came to deliver some heavy music, full of quality and identity. And with great joy we see the band performing some great tunes such as ”Godspeed Hell Bound” or ”War Of Heaven”, with a groove that raises hell.

The best in this is the feeling I have that this album might be the ressurection of Black Label Society. It brings to my mind the time when ”1919 Eternal” came out, with the band, showing they could do better. And that’s what they did with ”The Blessed Hellride”. So, there’s an aura that he’s going to stand on his feet again, overcoming health problems and his departure from Ozzy’s headquarters, revealing the ”true” and more ”free” Zakk Wylde. The album closes with ”January”, a ballad dedicated to Zakk’s father, who stood as a great inspiration to him in his life and the result is simply amazing. The South rises again and this American feeling is active and here to give more. Strength, Determination, Merciless, Forever. Zakk Wylde rules supreme. Period!

Track List Line Up
01. Crazy Horse
02. Overlord
03. Parade of the Dead
04. Darkest Days
05. Black Sunday
06. Southern Dissolution
07. Time Waits for No One
08. Godspeed Hell Bound
09. War of Heaven
10. Shallow Grave
11. Chupacabra
12. Riders of the Damned
13. January
Zakk Wylde – Vocals, Guitar, Piano
Nick ”Evil Twin” Catanese – Guitar
John ”JD’ DiServo – Bass
Will Hunt – Drums