CD Reviews, Music
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CD Review: Black Label Society, “Order of the Black”

Dear Mr. Wylde,

It’s easy to see you have an immense amount of talent. Ever since I listened to the Blessed Hellride in 2003 I keep purchasing your new Black Label Society records hoping for something that good. And every time I listen to one of your new records, it turns out to be exactly the same as the last record – which is sadly to say, mediocre.

At this point in your career, I believe we all know that you have a signature guitar sound. That trembling wail that is identified with you is great – the first four times. But is it still necessary to do it 800 times in each song? I complete understand that it’s your style, but there are some traditional solos on this album that are mighty good. How about more of those? “Parade of the Dead” has at least one great solo and two great riffs in it that would be even better if you expanded on them.

Another thing I was wondering – did you listen to Order of the Black when you finished it? Did you not realize that all the hard songs kind of blend into each other? Did you also not realize that the multiple ballads on this disc are sequenced pretty poorly, so that the flow completely gets killed each time one pops up?

On the other hand though, I have never really liked your ballads and there are at least two good ones on this record. In fact, “Darkest Days” may actually be one of the best songs you’ve ever written. It probably should have been the final track on the album though and longer – that would have been epic. The song which does close the album, “January” is beautiful, but way too short for a closer. Me want more.

Did I mention that you have a great amount of talent? I did? Okay, well I wanted to stress that again because you’re still young and it’s impossible that you could have peaked in 2003, right? And now that you don’t have to worry about Ozzy any longer, isn’t it about time you wrote 12 excellent tracks and put them to disc, rather than 4 excellent, 2 bad and 6 mediocre? Take “Black Sunday” for example. That song rocks and if your signature guitar wail is in it, I didn’t notice. Make more of those, please.

If you haven’t realized this yet, I’m not trying to find faults with your music. They really are just painfully easy to detect. I actually want to really like a Black Label Society album because you do rock hard as balls in many cases. Hard. As. Balls. And, Order of the Black is better than Mafia or that one with the nuns on the cover but still not something that’s going to blow my mind. “Riders of the Damned” – like any other BLS song. “Time Waits For No One” – snoozefest.

C’mon, dude. I’m begging you to buckle down and put together even just one really, really great album. Here’s an idea. Record all the songs for your next record. Then take the best five and put them aside. Then record an entirely new record and take the best five and combine them with the first group. It might work. It might not hurt to hire a singer too and just focus on the guitar playing. You’re a must better guitarist than singer. That would change the sound a little bit.

But these are just suggestions from a guy who couldn’t possibly create anything close to the quality on this disc. All I know is that I have just as much desire to listen to the new Hawkwind album as I do Order of the Black and in no way should a new Hawkwind album be able to compete with Black Label Society.