You can't keep a wyld man down, apparently. Four years since the ill-received Shot to Hell got the fans a-groanin' (usually along the lines of "Zakk is releasing too many cookie cutter albums"), Zakk and his gang of beer-swilling misfits have returned to lay down the law. Nothing does this better than opening track Crazy Horse that gets stomping just in time to inspire much enthusiasm for the oncoming musical fare. Though always a busy man, Zakk Wylde seems to have put extra effort writing great songs for this unexpected opus. Though as you taste each of the broozed n' broken boned offerings throughout Order of the Black you realize there's a lot of familiar territory covered as well.
Let's concentrate on the harder tracks first. Overlord, the rip-roaring Parade of the Dead, Southern Dissolution, the anthemic War of Heaven and the most excellent cut Godspeed Hell Bound stand tall as the album's finest. You've got riffs laden with grit, lots of pinch harmonics foolishness and a few melodies equal parts antebellum south and vintage Ozzy Osbourne. There's a Spanish guitar noodle somewhere near the end too. Choopacabra is it? Yes, it's Choopacabra. Just Zakk cooking up a hurricane with an acoustic and it sounds nasty. If this writer's brain can recall, Zakk was up to the same tricks back in the days of Sonic Brew. Boy oh boy, was that a swingin' album.
Ahem! Moving on now…with the beefier stuff good and covered, time to survey the album's less attractive moments. If ballads are your thing, Zakk and his boys prove they've still got the ballad itch on the heartfelt Time Waits For No One. Unfortunately, it might induce a fit of boredom so better skip it if the high octane stuff is what you're hankering for. As the album winds down and the quartet stumble toward the finish, the band eases the pace for another tender offering titled January. It's an okay track but at the end of the day, with no disrespect to Zakk's impeccable writing chops, it's the muscular songs you're after. Thank your left testicle there's a lot of them here.