Metal legend returns much stronger than most would've thought
I guess many had wondered if a new Ozzy album would ever happen. It's been six or so very long years that his patient fans have had to wait for solo studio album number nine, dubbed Black Rain. Word around the camp fire is that it's the first album that Ozzy's done clean, and it's clear that it is his most focussed work in some time. Ozzy, along with long time guitarist and collaborator Zakk Wylde is once again backed by ex-Faith No More skinsman Mike “Puffy” Bordin and they're joined by new bassist Rob “Blasko” Nicholson (ex-Rob Zombie) for his first post-MTV reality show studio album of new material.
I think it's fair to say that the first two tracks on here are a statement of intent from the Prince Of Darkness. The slow, trudging grind of Not Going Away and the comparatively quicker I Don't Wanna Stop suggest that although it may have been several years since Ozzy's last studio outing, that there is still plenty of life left in him yet. The layered chorus and blues heavy harmonica break of the war-themed title track, Black Rain, make for one of the album's highlights without doubt. Ozzy's latest album isn't all roses though with the drawn out and generally dull Lay Your World On Me and the marginally brighter Here For You (which appears later on) offering little that hasn't been done before by the man himself, and much better I might add too.
A thick, driving riff matched to perfection with Bordin and Blasko's tight as a duck's proverbial rhythm section rules the roost throughout the dynamic rocker The Almighty Dollar, whilst the album's quickest track, 11 Silver, shines not so much because of the track itself, but more because of Wylde's flyin' fret work during the lead break. There's no denying the catchiness of the hooks and riffs in Civilize The Universe and the apocalyptic Countdown's Begun, the latter of which sees Wylde and Blasko sharing the spotlight with Ozzy for carrying the track, whilst the album's finale, Trap Door, is a solid slab of headbanging goodness.
There's no way that anything that Ozzy releases now is going to compete with the likes of his classic early solo albums from the 80s. Let's set that record straight now - pardon the pun. But Black Rain is proof that Ozzy can still put together top notch tunes when given decent subject matter and as always, he's assembled a quality cast of muso's to help pull it off. He's done just that too with Black Rain being quite possibly his best album since 1991's No More Tears.
(Epic Records/Sony/B.M.G. Australia)
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