Ozzy Osbourne has been a part of the music scene and the pop culture landscape for the better part of four decades. His ability to stay relevant and widely popular for such a long period of time is no small feat and is a testament to his iconic status in the realm of music. We are talking about the guy who introduced the world to heavy metal with Black Sabbath. This is the same guy who gave us one of the greatest albums of the eighties, ‘Blizzard of Oz’. Let’s not forget about his phenomenal and commercially successful album ‘No More Tears’. That is one hell of a resume and with his new album ‘Scream’, Ozzy proves that he still has plenty of tricks left up his sleeve.
‘Scream’ is full of plenty of hard rocking music and searing guitar riffs, but it also has a softer side at times. It is Ozzy’s most complete effort in years and may be one of his best albums to date. ‘Scream’ was recorded in Ozzy’s home studio in Los Angeles and all of the songs on the album were co-written by himself with the help of producer Kevin Churko. One noticeable change this time around is the absence of Zakk Wylde. Zakk has been a staple of Ozzy’s band since the late eighties and I am sure there are many people out there who will be disappointed with his absence on the album. Before all of you Zakk fans out there lose your mind and write off this album, I urge you to reconsider. Give this one a chance guys. Gus G of Firewind has replaced the legendary axe slinger and does an amazing job filling the beer soaked boots of Wylde. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I actually enjoy Gus G’s shredding a little more than Wylde’s. Zakk had become so prominent on ‘Black Rain’ that it felt more like a Black Label Society album than an Ozzy Osbourne album. Hell, even Ozzy himself said the album sounded too much like Black Label Society and he wanted a change. Listen, I am a huge fan of Zakk Wylde and think he is an amazing guitarist, but he has a tendency to hog the spotlight. If you don’t believe me, check out his solo’s in footage of Ozzy’s old tours. Anyway, enough about Zakk Wylde. Gus G’s presence on the album definitely added new fuel to the unstoppable fire that is Ozzy and has rejuvenated his music.
The album kicks off with a back to back punch of heavy rock in the form of the grinding “Let it Die” and the first single “Let Me Hear You Scream”. Both songs adequately prepare the listener for a sonic assault on their ear drums. “Soul Sucker”, the album’s former title, is up next and comes off sounding like it should have been on Ozzy’s 1995 album ‘Ozzmosis’. It is one of my least favorite tracks on the record and probably should have never been included. The moody and melodic “Life Won’t Wait” follows and is a welcome departure from the sound of the previous track. While it is one of the least heavy songs on the album, Ozzy sounds fantastic and it could be one of the best songs he has done in a long time. “Diggin’ Me Down” begins with a continued lighter tone, but quickly ascends into a drum heavy rocker that is sure to please long time fans of the prince of darkness. After the banging drums have subsided, the listener is treated to the appropriately titled “‘Crucified”. The song delves into religion, but is far removed from the safety that is usually provided by the institution. Ozzy’s tone in the song is one of bitterness and anger. It is good to hear that there is still a little fight left in him after all of these years. Ozzy then switches gears again and delivers the unrelenting and unapologetic “Fearless”. This is the best song on the album. Everything from the guitars to the drumming is nothing short of astonishing. The album is worth picking up for this track alone. ‘Time’ is up next and leans toward being more of a ballad, but intermittently sees the return of heavier moments that are mostly in the form of great guitar work. The last two heavy tracks featured on the album are ‘”I Want It More” and “Latimer’s Mercy”. “I Want It More”‘ is more upbeat, while “Latimer’s Mercy” goes back to the darker and more grinding tone featured on ‘Let It Die’ at the beginning of the album. Both songs are among the best on the album. The last track, “I Love You All”, is a fitting end to the album. The song is mostly instrumental, but eventually features Ozzy singing what is essentially a love note to all of his fans. The song demonstrates that Ozzy is truly a humble man and is appreciative of all of his fans.
‘Scream’ is an amazing album from an even more amazing individual. Ozzy is nothing short of an icon and his status as such is not going to be in jeopardy as long as he continues putting material out of this caliber. While some fans may be put off that Zakk Wylde is not the guitarist on this album, I can tell you that you won’t miss him once you give this one a listen. Gus G is here to stay and that is OK with me. For fans of The Prince of Darkness, this album could prove to be a breath of fresh air and I highly recommend that you pick this one up. The album gets a very solid 4 out of 5. — Steve Johnson
‘Scream’ tracklisting is as follows:
‘Let It Die’
‘Let Me Hear You Scream’
‘Life Won’t Wait’
‘Diggin Me Down’
‘I Want It More’
‘I Love You All’
‘Jump The Moon’ (Japanese bonus track)