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Ozzy Osbourne - Scream (Review)

Ozzy Osbourne, Scream

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

OZZY Osbourne’s first album of new material in three years is described by the singer himself as a keen mix of Black Sabbath and his own material. As such, it’s extracting the best of both worlds to kind of play things safe.

The result, Scream, is a crowd-pleaser for the fans but no major step forward. The sceptics who think he’s not been the same since departing Sabbath will probably find nothing here to convince them otherwise, while his journeyman fans will lap up the mix of two styles.

Admittedly, a freshness comes from the presence of a new guitarist, Gus G, who mixes metal and thrash infused riffs with moments of Oasis calibre indie rock and something even approaching tenderness.

But when all’s said and done, this is a workmanlike effort that’s neither particularly good nor especially bad… merely OK.

Osbourne, for his part, has lost none of his rock swagger and belts out the contentious lyrics with gleeful abandon. Whether proclaiming himself to be a “rock star, dealer, servant, leader, saviour, sinner or killer” over the opening moments of Let It Die or vowing to “crucify you” on Crucify, he delivers the material with relish.

There’s angst, anger, self satisfied ego stroking and a keen sense of foreboding… all effortlessly in keeping with the gargantuan riffs that befit a performer of Osbourne’s status and history.

But, alas, there are very few moments that really excite. Album opener Let It Die is one, the Filter-esque acoustic opening of Life Won’t Wait is another, and the opening moments of Diggin’ Me Down (which begins with a romantic acoustic guitar intro even) has its moments.

But too often Osbourne resorts to thrash or metal inspired heaviness as if to labour the points he’s trying to make… a case that even blights Diggin’ Me Down.

Osbourne’s desire would seem to be to recapture former glories and prove he still has what it takes to mix it with the current rock Gods. He wants to blow the cobwebs out of the speakers, and he wants to make you scream… another point underlined by the choice of lead single, the loud blast of energy that is Let Me Hear You Scream.

But tracks like that and Fearless are pretty bog-standard rockers that Black Sabbath would have belted out in their sleep. Gus G’s guitar work can be ferocious… but it’s curiously better when being kept in check and allowed to develop nuances.

It’s when Osbourne flourishes, too, even allowing himself some Beach Boys inspired harmonising over the opening moments of the slow-burning Time… another of the album’s genuine highpoints.

All in all, a mixed bag then… Osbourne doesn’t really stretch himself and makes a worthwhile comeback. Yet the screaming he wants may come from equal bouts of appreciation and frustration.

Download picks: Let It Die, Life Won’t Wait, Time, Diggin’ Me Down

Track listing:

  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