How do you go about reviewing the first Ozzy release since his last one three years ago, Black Rain, which, in all honesty, didn’t fare that well and was a little stagnant?
With the departure of longtime guitarist Zakk Wylde, Ozzy has infused his sound with new blood, hiring Gus G. (Firewind, Dream Evil, Nightrage, Mystic Prophecy), a young Greek shredder with a high pedigree. What he brings is new virility and progressiveness that Ozzy needed to inject into his legacy — just like Ozzy did with Jake E. Lee after Randy Rhoads, then Zakk after Jake. Ozzy has a knack for snagging up-and-coming shredders to revitalize his persona and creative output.
The nuances of Gus G’s playing give a feeling that he is not just a hired hand: Ozzy lets his creativity flow within the framework of his trademark sound.
On Scream, Ozzy is lyrically at his distinctive best. Writing again with producer Kevin Churko, (Black Rain), Ozzy proves again that he has a gift for lyrics. His voice is definitely layered with filters and studio trickery, but there has never been a more distinct or more recognizable voice in all of music. It shows hints of early Zakk-era Ozzy mixed with the polished and modern sound of “Black Rain.”
The album starts off good enough, with a groove-rock rhythm and some pretty good lead work that segues into a chanted verse. The title track has been out for a couple of months, and the reviews and comments have been mixed, mostly good though. It’s a fairly catchy song with a great riff, and its anthemic chorus sticks with you. “Diggin’ Me Down” sounds eerily like the beginning of “Diary of a Madman,” then a heavy riff kicks in that can only be associated with Ozzy. Album closer “I Love You All” pays homage to his fans.
The haters out there might say Scream is overproduced, has commercial pop songs, rehashed riffs and is not heavy enough. But this is a new Ozzy release, and they should be reveling in it, for this could be his last.
Overall, this is a pretty good album, and Ozzy is still a supreme artist. Forget the indecipherable mumblings from his reality TV and variety shows that most non-metal fans associate him with. He is still the Prince of Fucking Darkness.