Symptom of the Universe
I can't decide whether the new Ozzy album is "surprisingly good" or just "good," because I'm pretty skeptical about what the operator "surprisingly" might be doing there. Is it really surprising for Ozzy to make a good record? Why? Because The Osbournes sucked? So what? Because he's kinda lame live now? Wait, when was Ozzy anything more than erratic-at-best live? Do people ever speak favorably about new Ozzy material? I mean, sure, Ozzy fans do, but music-geek types like you and me: when was the last time one of us said "the new Ozzy is fucking rad"? Blizzard? Fuck off with that, music-geek types hated that stuff when it was new. Ozzy's kind of the ultimate revealer of poseurs in this regard - people only dig what he's doing in retrospect, when they can put a little historical/ironical sheen on their appreciation. Metalheads meanwhile are quick to dismiss his stuff because A) he's soft as the Pillsbury Doughboy, and B) that completely shameful retracking-of-the-rhythm-section fiasco. Which, yes for sure no doubt, is like the most bullshit thing ever done in the history of music.
So, OK: he's either an ass or being managed by one. And he's not "relevant," and the absence of this quality strips the music of the menace it once wielded: several dozen boogeymen have come and gone since Ozzy last had the power to shock or offend. He's mainstream. But Zakk Wylde is still a monster whether you dig him personally or not, and this dude Blasko writes some of the most elegant basslines you're likely to hear this year, and thematically Ozzy's right where he's always been: the world's a mess, it's all burning down, we really ought to love each other. The vocals are triple-tracked and overprocessed - just like they have been for twenty years or so, or really since 1978's Never Say Die, if you wanna get technical about it.
It's all good, right? But who'm I kidding: you'll hate this until it becomes back catalogue. Such has always been Ozzy's unique fate. Ozzy is for the children; grown-ups only get him when they start wishing they were children again. When the distance between Ozzy-as-we-now-understand-him and Black Rain arrives at an acceptable level, anyhow, do make a point of listening to "11 Silver," which sounds like a fascist rally, and "Lay Your World On Me," which is your standard cheese-gobbling slow-n-introspective Ozzy ballad, which happens to be exactly what the world needs more than anything right now, artificial echoes and all. And stick your fingers in your ears and hum during the verses of "The Almighty Dollar," because they're exactly the sort of bad-idea-Oz stuff that's shown up once or twice per album throughout Osbourne's solo career.
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