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Ozzy Osbourne
Scream Mark Eglinton , June 25th, 2010 05:47

In my obnoxious teen years I would have happily camped outside Virgin at midnight, waiting like a mug for any new Ozzy album. Thankfully, such extreme measures aren't necessary nowadays, but new Ozzy Osbourne material is nevertheless still quite a compelling proposition – a bit like an impending train wreck.

On first listen though, Scream would have been tossed dismissively – in cassette form – from the driver's window of my speeding A registered Citroen Visa (Sport), so disappointing was the initial impression. Yet that would have been a rash decision, as repeat listens in a dimly lit basement provide critical perspective.

Opening track 'Let It Die' starts with some kind of bossa-nova shuffle beat - a first for even the so called 'Prince of Darkness' – but thankfully, the speedy application of some dated down-tuned riffs salvages what looked to be a monstrous misfire. One huge plus is Ozzy's voice, which because it was never exactly a thing of operatic beauty in his prime, hasn't had much scope for notable deterioration.' Let Me Hear You Scream' is powerful and anthemic, if a little disposable in a horror movie theme way.

The overall feel is of something highly polished, and while that is entirely expected from an artist of this stature, it does detract from any sense of evil that may have been intended. There are ballads too – 'Life Won't Wait' and 'I Love You All' being two of the best and worst examples respectively, but the balance of heavier material and thoughtful pieces is probably just about right. What _is_ missing, though, is the input of a genuine guitar hero.

Throughout his solo career, Ozzy has always had a Randy Rhoads/ Jake E Lee/ Zakk Wylde type gunslinger in his locker, and their presence certainly made some of his material appear a lot better than it probably was. While there is nothing wrong with the playing of Firewind guitarist Gus G – he does everything you'd expect: pinch harmonics galore, brief solos and sludged-up riffery – there's something rather impersonal and formulaic to his work. Nevertheless, it's predictably effective.

While Scream will never be hailed as anything revolutionary within the fabric of commercial heavy metal, with solid tunes like 'Crucify', 'Fearless' and 'Diggin' Me Down', the 2010 incarnation of Ozzy will certainly identify an appreciative market, and from that standpoint Scream represents resounding success.,