Ozzy Osbourne - "Scream"

Ozzy Osbourne

It’s common knowledge that Ozzy Osbourne has really become somewhat of a joke through the past number of years, what with his family – mostly fame obsessed wife Sharon – plodding him in front of a cameras as often as possible, so that we as the media consuming public can laugh at his drug rattled mind and body. For a while there you could even say that Ozzy had become so soft, so mundane and ordinary that he could be stripped of his Prince of Darkness moniker. Well, with his tenth solo release, “Scream,” that should all change. The Prince of Darkness is indeed back, this time with a mountainous slab of a record, just the legendary singer’s fifth album in two decades, and arguably his best body of work since 1995’s “Ozzmosis.”

Two things jump literally off the record upon pressing play, the first of which being the guitars. Longtime friend and axeman Zakk Wylde has been replaced with Firewind’s six-string gunslinger Gus G., and though most times you don’t really notice a guitarist swap, in this instance you definitely do. Gus G. offers a broader variety of guitar sounds, a wider spectrum than the ‘hey, look what I can do’ type of shredding and accented guitars Wylde brought to the table. And just as Wylde did after taking over for Jake Lee in ’88, Gus G.’s performance nearly steals the show – hell, perhaps if this wasn’t Ozzy Osbourne singing, he would be the biggest story on “Scream.” The second thing is, clearly Ozzy’s voice has run an intensive gamut of studio work. Most of his vocals of “Scream” has been layered and filtered, though; can you really blame them for cleaning up the voice of man who will celebrate his 63rd birthday this December? Um, no.

In all honesty, the work done to Ozzy’s vocals only enhances the product, and really only makes it that much stronger. The albums explodes like a tidal wave crashing down upon unsuspecting listeners via the superb tandem of openers ‘Let It Die’ and lead single ‘Let Me Hear You Scream.’ These back-to-back tracks perfectly set the table for the rest of “Scream,” and serve as an exclamation point that Ozzy is indeed back. The madman proves that there’s some bark left in his bite with the song ‘Digging Me Down,’ an effort that houses the lyrics, “so c’mon Jesus, don’t keep waiting here for you, how long cause my faith is breaking, how will I know you mister Jesus Christ, have you already been here once or twice, how will I know that you’re the son of God?” With the barbed religious effigies continuing into the following ’Crucify,’ the fact that Ozzy co-wrote this entire record (with Kevin Chruko) should be brought to light, proof that perhaps the mind of rock music’s elder statement isn’t completely gone. ‘I Want It More’ and ‘Latimer’s Mercy’ toweringly bring the chugging heaviness one last time, putting an emphatic exclamation point on “Scream,” before the endearingly heartfelt, albeit it brief, closer ‘I Love You All’ plays the record off into the twilight, a parallel that hopefully won’t be made to Ozzy’s career, well, at least not anytime soon.

With “Scream,” has delivered unto us an ageless effort, a record that sees him again effectively ascend to rock’s throne in order to reign over all others his work helped to inspire. It is easily his best record in over a decade, one that should be in the running for Best Rock album of 2010.

Grade: A
Listen to: ‘Let Me Hear You Scream’