By at 2:50 PM Thursday, June 3rd 2010

 

Ozzy’s Scream Is Powerful As Ever

Ozzy Osbourne, Reviews

 

If any doubt remained beforehand, on the release of Ozzy Osbourne’s 2007 album Black Rain it became clear that Zakk Wylde had outlasted his grace period as Ozzy’s main axeman. Five albums is the longest stretch any guitarist has lasted under Osbourne, and Wylde’s formidable reputation speaks for itself, but a new stylistic approach was necessary in order for the former Sabbath frontman to reestablish himself with a fresh relevance in the metal scene.

New guitarist Gus G. (of Firewind) has brought a revitalized energy and a new flavor palette to Scream, continuing the rejuvenation cycle that Wylde perpetuated when he replaced Jake E. Lee on No Rest For The Wicked in 1988. Aside from Ozzy’s revitalized dedication to the craft, Gus’ presence is the key to the album’s success, instinctively inspiring a closer listen – even if only to hear some new blood behind Ozzy for the first time in over two decades. He offers far more than a novelty transfusion, however, delivering powerful riffery that straddles the classic Ozzy sound while pushing a more progressive edge that Wylde simply didn’t have in his repertoire.

Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Ozzy recorded most of Scream at his Los Angeles home studio The Bunker, and co-wrote all the songs, primarily with Black Rain producer Kevin Churko. With an opening as grandiose and promising as any release since 1981’s landmark album Diary Of A Madman, Scream lifts off with Let It Die, a throbbing menace with layered vocals, stomping and sneering through a chanting verse that will likely find mass crowd participation at this year’s Ozzfest.

Speaking of which, Let Me Hear You Scream could very well be backed by Mötley Crüe, a breathlessly uptempo jam with that debuted to the world during an episode of CSI:New York last month and has held strong on the Billboard Rock charts for six weeks.

Ozzy’s vocals are filtered and layered to hell under oceans of minutia-tinkering production throughout Scream, but it’s to be expected from a man who most in today’s nightmare reality associate with a shuffling, mumbling mess on a reality show, rather than the Prince of Fucking Darkness. He’s twice if not three times the age of most rockers on the scene today, he’s beaten the hell out of himself, and it’s a damned miracle he can get out of bed in the morning.

By mere titular association, Soul Sucker enters the ring with one arm tied behind its back. The album was originally set to be given the title Soul Sucka, but the project was abruptly renamed following an immensely negative fan response.

“When we put that on the Internet none of my fan base liked the title,” said Osbourne. “They were like, ‘I can’t imagine me walking around the fucking house with the words ‘Soul Sucka’ on my T-shirt.’ So I was like, ‘Fuck it. I’ve got to come up with something else!’”

The song itself is three steps above forgettable, a lumbering ’90s riff-fest that breaks into full hair-metal jamming halfway through. By contrast, Life Won’t Wait is a beautifully subdued, melodic track built on acoustic guitars, nuanced effects and a clear-throated Ozzy warning “Every second you throw away / every minute of every day / don’t get caught in a red rage / ’cause life won’t wait for you, my friend.”

A classical guitar intro begins Draggin’ Me Down, but drummer Tommy Clufetos is in the driver’s seat here, channeling Danny Carey with a jarring percussive assault that pushes the track to stomping, menacing depths. “How will I know you mister Jesus Christ? Have you already been here once or twice?” Ozzy asks over churning rhythmic flurries.

The religious cynicism intensifies on the shakers-and-bass-led Crucify, with Oz crooning “I’m gonna swear on the Bible while I’m feeding you lies.” There’s a bite to Ozzy’s bark here and throughout Scream that one would find hard to believe on paper, given the man’s advanced age and notorious history of death-taunting self-abuse for longer than most of us have been alive.

There’s no suitable measuring stick for this level of commitment to the craft this far along in the game, but the chanting, dominant chorus of Fearless leaves no room for half-stepping, no sign of atrophy or restraint whatsoever. “I’d rather die on my feet than live a life on my knees / I am warrior / I’m fearless / no pain, no mercy, no weakness / I’m fearless!” An excellent showing on the solo as well.

I Want It More is a head-banging thrasher with squealer riffs and chopping rhythms, cut with soaring arena choruses. Latimer’s Mercy, by contrast, is a sludgy pulse of danger in the darkness, which Osbourne is quite clearly no stranger to.

Minute-long closer I Love You All is a melancholy call to unity, a recognition of mortality underneath an earnest message of gratitude from the Prince of Darkness. As a final endcap of his life’s work, the song – which lasts a mere 62 seconds – would be a beautiful fit. Whether or not it’s truly a sendoff remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Ozzy will meet whatever may come head-on, eyes wide and screaming.

 
 

Ozzy Osbourne

Scream

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Released: 22/06/2010
Label: Epic
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 It More
10. Latimer's Mercy
11. I Love You All
 

Meanwhile, On The Internet...

 
14 comments
  1. Rob says:

    4 stars? Ok, cool, as you guys are usually on-point with your reviews. I heard a snippet of one of the songs, but I am not sure which one, and my radar went on because of the guitar work I heard. I made a mental note to check out the album just for Gus G, but now with your review I will make it a priority. Great site, keep things going forward around here.

  2. Kevin Lee says:

    Albums titled Scream make me nervous.

    • Benderz says:

      two words=chris cornell

      • JSancho says:

        I hear you guys, I never got over the Scream thing.
        Sometimes I think I can hear Timbaland…

        Sweet review, long time since I’ve properly enjoyed an album from Ozzy. Looking forward to check this out.

  3. zoopster says:

    As with any post-Rhoads Ozzy album, this one is sure to have a few gems, some mediocre songs, and some crap. I’m definitely curious to hear his latest gunslinger, though. I wasn’t even aware that Zakk wasn’t on board. Even if the album is half shit, it doesn’t matter. He could put out an album consisting of himself taking a dump and it’d still sell. Even if he doesn’t put out another note of music, he could still sell out arenas around the world til he fucking croaks. Good to see him back.

    Surprised and glad you guys reviewed this one.

  4. Chris says:

    I heard the title track and thought the guitar work was great, but the vocals sucked as did the lyrics. I never thought of Ozzy as pandering to the arena sports crowd, but he seems to be trying to mirror the idea of Megadeth’s “Crush” with this one. The vocal track doesn’t seem to be even his own voice after all the reworking, and I never liked the synthesized voice inflections, which seem to be used to mask all sorts of “non perfect” tone changes. In this song, it seems as though he has a deeper scream than ever, and that just simply is not true. And can the chorus be any more cliched? Really, when did Ozzy start doing cliche’s in his writing like Bon Jovi? His writing throughout his career is very interesting (up until after his un-retirement….or as I call it, after Sharon replaced Ozzy with a robot) as his lyrics very seldom have been of the stuff of the typical music scene. Ever since he came back with Ozmosis, it seems his “rebirth” on every album has been basically following the scene…..like the wheel is still spinning but the hamster is dead. If this were his first album….it wouldn’t sell well. But since the name on the cover is “ozzy” it will sell.

  5. Alright! Some more heaviness around here, I like it! Keep it coming. This albums sounds great. It’s streaming at http://www.myspace.com/ozzyosbourne and I like what I hear. Zakk’s really great but the line-up change was absolutely needed. This Gus G guy has amazing chops, so the guitar work is far more technical and progressive here. Definitely worth a listen at least, it is a greatly realized album.

  6. Yeah cool review but without any accuracy ? What flesh blood, whole album was already written when Gus G. was hired, he is just playing Zakk stuff

  7. Surja says:

    A very good review and not only because I like Ozzy a lot. For quite sometime there has been a trend of people saying that Ozzy should probably hang up his boots because he is making a fool of himself. Really! I try to listen to the music that goes around today in the name of metal and frankly, this old man is still at the top. He is an entertainer and a damn good one at that. People who are looking for messages in his lyrics and profound meanings in his songs should just go by what the man in my opinion has always said.. there is so much shit in this world, you can’t help that but just live your life the best you can whatever others may say.
    Gus G is pretty good at what he does and complements the album very well. Those who liked Zakk better, well, he isn’t here and you can’t do anything about it. Seriously Gus is actually pretty good but what really sells is the man himself, Ozzy. Give this album a try and you will love it.

  8. I like the album a lot, but Gus G has nothing to do wih how the album sounds, as review suggests. He had no creative input into “Scream” and pushed Ozzy nowhere as album had been already written when he joined Ozzy.

  9. justin says:

    hey man I’ve been an ozzy/sabbath fan for 20 yrs and I own every album to me this albums rocks it’s very heavy .catchy and his vocals are extremely strong even though theres some processing, I love it the more I listen to it the more i want to listen to it. I welcome the change on the sound it’s not to much of a change just enough to keep things interesting. this is my favorite album since no more tears and i actually like it just as much if not more. it just kicks ass
    it’s extremly heavy and definitly worth the price. by the way great review

  10. Anne McLaughlin says:

    This album in amazing. The best he’s done in years. I get choked up every time I hear track 11. Great drinking album.

  11. Art says:

    First Ozzy album I ever bought, just did it on a lark. I am more of a Tesla kind of guy. I am very impressed with “Scream”. The more I hear it, the more I like it. The first song there is a lot of editing on his voice, but most of the rest of the album it sounds like him. There have been a lot of singers who can’t speak well but sing their asses off. One big example is Melt Tillis. Overall I am happy I bought it.

  12. John Smith says:

    Excellent Ozzy album. It reminds me of some of his first albums (in style, at least), but the vocals are kind of weird. Weird vocals are appropriate, though, when you’re talking about this kind of subject matter.

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