CD Review: Ozzy Osbourne, “Scream”

Is anyone but me fascinated that Ozzy Fucking Osbourne is still making records? Maybe I shouldn’t be, though, as after reading his autobiography, it’s clear that he’s going to make music right up until his liver disintegrates into a pile of dust. The bastard just doesn’t quit. And that’s perfectly fine with me.

Let’s face it now: before you even hear the record, the big deal is that Zakk Wylde is not part of it. For more than a decade, Wylde played guitar on Ozzy’s records, making him the longest-tenured axeman of his solo career. You also kind of got the perception that Wylde was almost part of Ozzy’s family — or, at least, Ozzy’s biggest fan. While all of that was great, and he’s a pretty damn fine guitarist (and that’s probably an understatement), by the time Black Rain rolled around in 2007, it was getting mighty difficult to tell the difference between Ozzy and Black Label Society albums.

Of course, it’s easy to look back and say this now, especially after you listen to Scream. Ozzy has employed Firewind guitarist Gus G. as Wylde’s replacement, and it makes all the difference in the fucking world. Despite the fact that one of the first guitar licks on the album contains the same signature sound that Wylde has on every song, the addition of a power metal guitarist gives Scream a totally different feel than the previous five albums. The riffs are immense — ginormous, even. The songs aren’t quite as straightforward as before (no worries, it’s still crisp and radio-friendly) and Ozzy sounds invigorated for the first time in a while. This is most evident in the next-to-last track on the record, “Latimer’s Mercy,” where the power metal riffs shine through, the keys provide a total epic feel and Ozzy actually wrote some lyrics that weren’t just telling people to get up and rock. This very well may be his best track since “Perry Mason.”

The album cover with Ozzy planting a flag on top of a mountain really fits with this record, as it surely feels like he’s reaching a new peak. I wasn’t a big fan of the first single, “Let Me Hear You Scream,” when I first heard it on the radio, but its over-the-top epic feel fits well within the context of the album. “Life Won’t Wait” is really a key track for me on this, though, as it starts with an acoustic passage with a rhythm reminiscent of “Mama, I’m Coming Home” and turns into this super-melodic rock song. It’s the first semi-ballad of Ozzy’s that’s been worth a damn in recent memory.

The only problem I have with the album is “Crucify,” which almost sounds unfinished. I have a feeling this one was written for the radio, as it’s the one track on the album that sounds very typical of his hits over the last few years.

The change in sound makes all the difference, as the album sounds quite relevant and is much better than you should expect from Ozzy at this point in his storied career. Rock on, Ozzy. You still fuckin’ rule.

  • Cloudmerc

    Fuckin A. Great review and amazing CD for sure! A big improvement over Black Rain, honestly my least fav of all of Ozzy's releases. I feel like i didn't waste my time believing in the Oz Man. Rock on Ozzy, Rock the fuck on!!

  • Lifshitz4

    after five six times…surely the best stuff since no more tears..great album.

  • Only left handed guitars

    Ozzy should get 10 marks for trying but honestly this album could have been done by Zakk. Gus' guitar playing sounds like Zakk in so many places, to the point that Gus actually rips off Zakk's playing style for so much of the album – and not just the pinch harmonics every so often. Gus is a Zakk clone with other minor bits and pieces thrown in to make his “style.” Clearly hired as a SESSION MUSICIAN. Take the solo in “I Want It More” – 100% Zakk Wylde rip off. Don't get me started on that!

    Re: vocals: overprocessed like never before. But then again, Ozzy has sung even possible tune and melodic progression, backwards forwards, upside down ion existence, so where do you go from there? As a result the melodies sound like earlier melodies cut and pasted together. Difficult situation to be in, so well done on the cut and paste effort.

    Overall this album is a bit borning and a bit corny in places. But it is easy now for people to say now all these things about recent efforts sounding like Black Label Society and whatever with Zakk's playing – cheap shot attacks on the earlier work are on the horizon with this album. That's the nature of the Media and having the “latest and greatest.”

    One thing: I love Ozzy Osbourne. I have been a fan since Black Sabbath days. I have all the albums and all the DVDs from the beginning. I can't criticize him with too much intensity. He is Ozzy. He is a Legend. Just this album is not that good. It has it's moments but it is not as good as all the hype!