Archive for July 11, 2010

Ozzy Osbourne – Scream (2010, Sony/Epic Records)

  1. Let It Die
  2. Let Me Hear You Scream
  3. Soul Sucker
  4. Life Won’t Wait
  5. Diggin’ Me Down
  6. Crucify
  7. Fearless
  8. Time
  9. I Want More
  10. Latimer’s Mercy
  11. I Love You All

Band Lineup:
Ozzy Osbourne – Vocals
Gus G. – Guitars
Blasko – Bass
Tommy Clufetos – Drums
Adam Wakeman – Keyboards

Produced by: Ozzy Osbourne & Kevin Churko

Total Time = 49:08

Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy Osbourne MySpace page
Ozzfest

I’m going to be extremely honest here…..I wasn’t really excited about a new Ozzy album. His last two studio albums, DOWN TO EARTH (2001) and BLACK RAIN (2007), left a lot to be desired with their modern Metal/Black Label Society sound and I didn’t like them at all. Then you have the controversy of Ozzy & Sharon Osbourne letting Zakk Wylde go, ending a 22-year musical partnership, and bringing in new guitarist Gus G. (Firewind, Dream Evil, Nightrage). Nothing against Gus G. because he’s a solid guitar player, and I’m a fan of his, but the Ozzy/Zakk Wylde era is just as revered as the Ozzy/Randy Rhoads era. Even if the last few Ozzy records were more like Black Label Society records, it’s Zakk Wylde! Then there’s the constant blitz that is the Ozzy Osbourne brand whether it’s on television, public appearances, promotional gimmicks or product branding…..it’s total overkill! Sharon Osbourne has taken a page right out of the Gene Simmons playbook and has made Ozzy a household brand name just like KISS! I wasn’t impressed with Ozzy showing up at a Dodger game to lead the crowd to the longest & loudest scream record…..it was about promoting SCREAM and wouldn’t have been done otherwise even though it did happen during the Dodgers’ third annual “ThinkCure! Weekend” for cancer. Needless to say, the “Prince of Darkness” is not the same ominous, crazy Metal musician I remember him being when I was growing up in the ’80s and my desire to hear new music from him is at an all-time low. I picked up SCREAM because I had hope…..

Opening song ‘Let It Die’ sounds like a holdover from the BLACK RAIN sessions with it’s very thick modern sound and processed vocals. One of my biggest complaints about the last couple of Ozzy records were the effects put on his voice and here they are again! Just let the man sing…..if he can. This song is a slow dirge that picks up around the chorus with guitar lines that sound like Zakk Wylde’s. Gus G. wasn’t around in time to add to the songwriting on the album so he’s basically playing what he’s told to on all the songs, the only time I hear him stretch out is on the solos. The solo section on ‘Let It Die’ is a pace-changing instrumental and it helps the song not be a total loss for me. ‘Let Me Hear You Scream’ is the lead single and video from the album and it’s a song that sounds most like old school Ozzy. This is going to be a monster track in concert with its pounding rhythm and it’s obvious “crowd participation” style. Seeing that both Blasko and Clufetos were in Rob Zombie’s band, you can hear the Industrial beats driving the song along a very Wylde main riff. The song takes off for me with the catchy lyrics and the solos/runs Gus G. puts on top of that main riff, definitely one of the better songs on the record.

The original title for the album was going to be “Soul Sucka”, the Ozzy camp even announced the new title on Ozzy’s website, but fan outrage over the Hip-Hop styled title made them change it quickly to SCREAM. The song ‘Soul Sucker’ is another sludge-fest that gives off more of an Industrial/Nu-Metal sound with effects again on Ozzy’s vocals. The song actually sounds like a cross between Black Sabbath and Black Label especially at the solo/instrumental break, the best part of the song that actually saves it. If they had just followed that instead of the processed and repetitive “soul sucker” lyrical dirge. Moving into more familiar territory, Ozzy and company create the best sounding ballad he’s done in years with ‘Life Won’t Wait’. It has a clean sound, Ozzy sounds in good voice and the guitar is really good. It has a retro sound to it and could easily fit on NO MORE TEARS (1991) or OZZMOSIS (1995) and it sounds unlike the rest of the album so far because it’s not as distorted and down-tuned. You’d be hard pressed to distinguish Gus G. from Zakk Wylde because he plays exactly like him, hopefully Gus can stretch out a little on tour. The acoustic opening to ‘Diggin’ Me Down’ caught my attention immeadiately and I had a Randy Rhoads flashback, that is definitely something I could hear coming off the first two Ozzy records. After the intro, the song kicks into a heavy Sabbath groove with a touch of older Metallica in there too. The main riffs sound too much like Zakk Wylde but there is a huge drum sound and Ozzy’s voice really cuts through with the lyrics challenging Jesus. I like the song because it’s very heavy and sounds more akin to the Ozzy records from 1988-1995, again fitting on any of the first three albums with Zakk Wylde.

‘Crucify’ is an obvious title for an Ozzy tune and the similarities to ‘Diggin’ Me Down’ are also obvious, I would almost call this a continuation of ‘Diggin Me Down’. ‘Crucify’ isn’t as heavy as ‘Diggin’ Me Down’ and there are some cleaner guitar parts that you can idenitfy as not too Wylde so the song isn’t a total loss. ‘Fearless’ returns to a heavier uptempo sound with a thick sounding rhythm section and some good guitar fills but the chorus leaves a lot to be desired and I get this “I’ve heard this before feeling”. It definitely sounds like an unfinished idea and screams filler. Ballad #2 is ‘Time’, a song very similar to ‘Life Won’t Wait’ in that it has the best old school Ozzy sound and that the “Prince of Darkness” really has a good touch when it comes to the softer side of Metal. Gus G. gets a good solo section in the song and there is a Beatles influence that makes this very melodic (Ozzy is a huge Beatles fan) so I would definitely consider this another of my favorites. ‘I Want It More’ goes for the slower Metal groove of Black Label but the chorus is melodic enough to save the song from being a complete dirge copy. The main riff is heavy as hell and the solo section is great with the keyboards really fleshing out the sound and adding a distinct layer but the chorus really sets the song apart from the music and gives it an originality. ‘Latimer’s Mercy’ is an ominous song that sounds a little like ‘Soul Sucker’ in some parts and like late ’90searly 2000s Alice Cooper in others. The song doesn’t work for me even with it’s buzzsaw main riff and thick backline, there’s something missing. Same thing goes for the last song ‘I Love You All’, there’s something missing…..like most of the song! ‘I Love You All’ is basically one minute long and consists of ballad style music and Ozzy singing to the fans that he thanks us for standing by him through the years and that he loves us all. Definite throwaway track and a waste of time, if you’re going to have eleven songs on an album at least make them eleven FULL songs!

Bottom Line:
SCREAM is a tough album for me because I am battling my loyalties to the Ozzy Osbourne I grew up with from 1980-1995 against the new millenium Ozzy that is trying to keep up with the bands playing with him on Ozzfest. On one hand, I really want to like the album because it’s Ozzy. On the other, I’m waiting to be disappointed because that’s exactly what Ozzy has done with his last two studio albums. I have given this new album a lot of playing time since it came out a couple of weeks ago and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s definitely better than both DOWN TO EARTH and BLACK RAIN. If we throw out ‘I Love You All’ and go with the ten full songs, I would say that I really like six of them and two of those are the ballads. SCREAM is a heavy album with enough modern Metal, Black Sabbath styled riffs and the trademark  Ozzy sound to satisfy a lot of fans, I think Ozzy has finally found that elusive mix of being current while trying to retain his classic sound. SCREAM isn’t going to rank up there with BLIZZARD OF OZZ (1980) or DIARY OF A MADMAN (1981) but it has enough of the classic Ozzy to make me forget about the last two studio albums. This isn’t the best Ozzy record but I can hear this growing on me the more I listen to it. What I am looking forward to is the live performance at Ozzfest with Gus G. on stage, I’d like to hear if he gets to stretch out of the Zakk Wylde mold he was forced to fill on the record and, hopefully, the next album will feature more of Gus’ original Euro-Metal playing. SCREAM isn’t a full comeback but it’s a start.

Favorite Songs:
‘Let Me Hear You Scream’, ‘Life Won’t Wait’, ‘Diggin’ Me Down’, ‘Time’, ‘I Want It More’