God help us all: Zakk Wylde is off the sauce.
For fans of rock’s last berserker standing, this is a bombshell to rival Gene Simmons confessing impotence or Keef using a Nicorette patch, but it’s surely a contributing factor to one of the most coherent Black Label albums in recent years (one suspects that being handed a P45 by Ozzy has also concentrated his mind).
If you can get past the fact that Wylde’s feline vocals sound exactly like his former paymaster, his songwriting on Order Of The Black is as brutally effective as his lead guitar, with right-handers like Crazy Horse and Parade Of The Dead leaving you dazed but impressed.
Unfortunately, Wylde’s citing of Elton John as an influence in the press release turns out not to be a joke; no fewer than four songs here find him plonking away on – by the sounds of it – an ivory piano in a white room, while lace curtains billow and doves flap on high, mewling lines like ‘I find myself empty and withdrawn’. It doesn’t suit him, and each time, he follows up with a monolithic metal slam-dunker almost by way of apology.