Ozzy Osbourne - 'Scream' Hot

Added by James Gaden     August 24, 2010    
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New album from the Prince Of Darkness.

It’s a funny ol’ world at times when you think about it. Back in the 80’s, Ozzy Osbourne (aka the ‘Prince Of Darkness’) was pretty much public enemy number one as far as the self righteous, self appointed guardians of our morals over in America were concerned - I remember Tipper Gore and the PMRC really getting their panties in a bunch every time his name was mentioned (so much for the first amendment!) – but a few seasons of low rent reality TV and all of a sudden he’s everybody’s favourite eccentric uncle… go figure!
Now, whilst I’ve always had the utmost respect for everything Ozzy achieved with Black Sabbath (you can’t be a metal fan and not acknowledge the pivotal role they played in its foundation), but to be honest I always preferred the Dio fronted version and to these ears, it’s his mid 80’s solo output that reigns supreme. He was starting to get there with ‘Bark At The Moon’ back in ’83, but really hit his stride with ‘The Ultimate Sin’ and ‘No Rest For The Wicked’ in ’86 and ’88 respectively, two great releases that to this day he’s never come close to beating. As ‘No More Tears’ ushered in the 90’s Ozzy; a darker, gloomier, less accessible persona started to emerge, and that overly modern stance has pretty much coloured everything he’s done since. But to be fair, after bottoming out with the damn near unlistenable ‘Down To Earth’ about ten years ago, 2007’s ‘Black Rain’ was a positive step back in the right direction … and so it continues with ‘Scream’.

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I’m not gonna insult your intelligence by pretending that there’s anything here akin to ‘Shot In The Dark’ or ‘Miracle Man’ to tempt those who may have lost faith, but as I said, things are moving the right way once again. I was a little surprised and intrigued to find no sign of longstanding guitarist Zakk Wylde (his replacement here being Firewind shred master extraordinaire Gus G), but given that latter day Ozzy and Black Label Society were in danger of becoming totally interchangeable, that’s no bad thing really.
Like ‘Black Rain’, ‘Scream’ was written and produced with Kevin Churko, so the parallels between the two albums should come as no surprise, but underneath the bass heavy riffs and modern outlook, some of the melodies hark back to an earlier time. Most of the pacier, more aggression fuelled cuts continue in the same vein as before (albeit with a touch more melodic sensibility), so if ‘Black Rain’ caught your ear, you’ll know what to expect with the likes of ‘Let It Die’, ‘Let Me Hear You Scream’, ‘Fearless’, ‘I Want It More’, etc. But for me, it’s the slower, more atmospheric / less abrasive stuff that holds the most promise. ‘Time’, ‘Diggin’ Me Down’, ‘Latimers Mercy’ all run off at odd tangents which are strange, yet at the same time fairly compelling.
Not the best Ozzy album you’ll ever hear by a long chalk, but probably his best shot in 20 years.
Dave Cockett
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