Hey everyone, I know it's not band related but I just got an advanced copy of Ozzy's "Black Rain" album and... well... I figured I'd post my thoughts on it.
First of all let me start by saying I've been an Ozzy fan for as long as I can remember. With that being said I can't say that I was particularly thrilled with "Down to Earth" (Ozzy's previous album). But as I look back through my Ozzy solo catalog there are really few shining moments in Ozzy's solo career. Of course the first two solo albums with the late (great) Randy Rhoads. The album "Bark at the Moon" wasn't terrible (though poorly produced) and "No Rest for the Wicked" was very fresh sounding in it's time. (especially when following up The Ultimate Sin which is probably one of the worst sounding Ozzy albums ever.) I liked "No More Tears" but it was obvious to me that the bloom was off Ozzy's rose at that point. Then Osmosis came out and I really enjoyed that album. I mean Geezer had a hand in writing some of the tracks and some of the lyrics were very dark and not just about Ozzy wanting to "Rock & Roll" or... him informing us that he is not indeed as "Crazy" as everyone thinks. So that brings us to Ozzy's latest release "Black Rain" here are my thoughts.
Okay, the album starts out with some industrial sounding drums and it's got a plodding beat and decent generic Zakky Rocker riff. Ozzy's actually putting a little effort into the chorus which is nice to hear. But opening the album with this track is something I question. Ozzy needs some help with songwriting to (and this goes for the whole album really) someone needs to inform Ozzy that some of his greatest tracks of all time didn't have a chorus. So basically you can read a songtitle on this album and know that that title is going to be sung about 40 times during the song. Every track on this album is Chorus driven. It's like Ozzy just wants people to "sing along" during shows. Hell, there are even tracks where he includes hand clapping/stomping and the usual Ozzy "Hey" that he does live. These songs sound like they were written with live performance in mind (which isn't always bad but... not particularly intriguing to me).
The rock songs are watered down for the most part and the ballads are Ozzy's attempt to be John Lennon/Elton John and it comes off rather poorly. The album isn't without it's moments though. As I sad the first song was decent (if you throw away the "Not Going Away" that took place every 8 bars into the song.). Black Rain had a little flare to it and was slightly more ambient for Ozzy. I thought Zakk dropped the ball on the chorus on this song. It sounded like they wanted a Middle Eastern feel and Zakk just went with his normal "Rock" solo. Ya know playing the major scales really fast... Zakk is great but it'd be nice to see him think outside the box for the Ozzy stuff sometimes. (Though I'm sure it's not all his choice).
I will say this Mike Borden has improved greatly since starting to play with Ozzy. If you listen to Borden back in the Faith No More days he sounded sluggish and sloppy a lot of the time. This guy was right on point on this album... very good performance for both him and Blasko (Bass Player).
My favorite tracks on the album were... Black Rain, Not Going Away & The Almighty Dollar. Everything else on this album is a "take it or leave it" track and while nothing truly "Sucks" on this album... I don't feel that this is music that we will be talking about in 20 years. (much like very few people talk about "The Ultimate Sin" now.)
I'd love to see Ozzy get together with a young heavy songwriter. Someone who grew up listening to his Sabbath stuff and understands what Ozzy should sound like and I'm not talking about making him sound like Black Sabbath again... I mean.. it'd be great but that's not Ozzy today... Ozzy needs someone who understands what metal music should sound like. It's obvious that everyone around him is very far removed or not giving their true opinions because of his legacy.
Again, this is all my opinion... and I really do not HATE this album. But, I highly doubt I'll be listening to it frequently... and I couldn't fathom talking about it's "greatness" years from now.
4 out of 10 in my book
Listenable but not that enjoyable.
Let me know your thoughts when you hear the album.