A new guitarist, but that doesn't quite make for a new sound
As an entertainer, Ozzy Osbourne is an absolute legend. His early solo works, and his efforts within Black Sabbath will forever be considered classics within metal history.
The secret behind Osbourne’s success lies solely down to the musical and song writing talent that he surrounds himself with, especially the guitarists Osbourne has chosen to collaborate with throughout his lengthy solo career.
But in September 2009, Osbourne decided a change of sound was needed, and after twenty years together, guitarist Zakk Wylde was replaced by up and coming Greek guitarist Gus G. (who earned his stripes in acts such as Firewind, Dream Evil, Mystic Prophecy and Nightrage). The reasons behind the change were understandable and justified, given that Osbourne’s last couple of releases were starting to sound more and more like Wylde’s own outfit Black Label Society, and overall fell well short of matching the brilliance of Osbourne’s classic past efforts.
So with Gus G. taking on guitar duties, Osbourne returns with his tenth studio release Scream, there’s a certain amount of anticipation and hope that Osbourne’s latest effort will be one of his strongest efforts in some years. And for the most part, Scream really is one of Osbourne’s best albums in some time.
The opening track Let it Die is easily one of Osbourne’s heaviest efforts in years, with the band (who also includes bassist Rob ‘Blasko’ Nicholson, keyboardist Adam Wakeman and drummer Tommy Clufetos) giving the song plenty of metallic firepower, and Osbourne himself delivering an equally powerful and aggressive performance. While the riff structures stick primarily to the some heavy groove chords, Gus G. does manage to shine briefly with a classy solo toward the tail end of the song.
The first single/promotional video clip Let Me Hear Your Scream is a catchy and infectious rocking anthem that is a perfect introduction to the album, even if the theme and direction is a little too reminiscent of the first single from Black Rain (Not Going Away).
Soul Sucker on the other hand is one of the album’s first real weak tracks. Although heavy, the plodding pace of the song and the general lacklustre appeal of the chorus only brings the song down. Despite picking up a little around the middle, the song is a bit of a nondescript plodder.
The obligatory ballads Life Won’t Wait and Time are definitely some of Osbourne’s finer efforts compared to those features on his last few albums, and manages to steer the album back on track, while the driving Diggin’ Me Down and Crucify once again seek out ground that’s a little more adventurous sounding, even if they fall short of sounding fully thought out and developed to be hailed as true classics.
Both Fearless and Latimer’s Mercy are nothing more than a filler tracks where the choruses barely manages to differentiate themselves from the verses (which therefore renders the songs as unremarkably dull and forgettable), while the rocking I Want It More and the rather short parting address to fans in I Love You All are good, but far from great.
Scream is a very good album from Osbourne, and perhaps marginally stronger than Black Rain. But in all honesty, there’s little separating the two, which is not all that surprising given that Osbourne co-wrote the album with producer Kevin Churko, the same man responsible for handling Black Rain. Gus G. may have replaced Wylde, but you would be hard pressed to notice. Gus G.’s contribution to ‘Scream’ is that of a session musician, and nothing more. And that, in my eyes, is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Scream.
Perhaps on Osbourne’s next album, Gus G. will be allowed a contribute more to the song writing. But as it stands, Scream is simply a remake of Black Rain, with only a slight better selection of songs to offer up.
(Epic Records/Sony Music Entertainment)
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