Ozzy Osbourne - Scream
Ozzy has been through some tough times, having split from Black Sabbath his solo career, successful though it undoubtedly is, has been eternally dogged by disaster. He’s seen his beloved guitarist die in an horrific plane crash in front of his eyes, fallen victim to mental breakdown and been involved in an horrific quad bike accident which has left him a shadow of his former self. On record, however, he’s still the ultimate metal front man and Scream finds him in unusually fine fettle.
How does he do it? Well, fortunately, he’s never gone down the speed metal route so his trademark monolithic sound is ideally suited to his advancing years. He’s always processed the hell out of his vocals so he’s not worried about suddenly sounding frail. Most importantly though tragedy has taught him how to reinvigorate his career; when in doubt get in a new guitarist. So, as Zakk Wylde departs with the imprint of Ozzy’s boot on his arse, in parachutes Gus G with a degree in classic metal riffs and a licence to thrill.
It’s a masterstroke and provides the impetus for Ozzy to create possibly his best work since The Ultimate Sin. It’s all here; the crunching doom of ‘Let it Die’ gives way to the outlandish rifferama which underpins Ozzy’s prince of darkness routine on ‘Let Me Hear You Scream’ and there’s even room for the obligatory ballad in ‘Life Won’t Wait’. Here’s the killer move though, it’s actually good stuff and, although the quasi-classical fingerpicking which announces the onset of the doom laden crunch of ‘Diggin’ Me Down’ inevitably leads to unfavourable comparisons to Randy Rhoads, it’s largely down to the new axeman.
True to form Ozzy has even found the energy to rile the moral majority once again with the controversial ‘Latimer’s Mercy’ which provides an ambiguous commentary on the case of Robert Latimer who was convicted for the euthanasia of his disabled daughter in 1993. He may have been through the mill but, one thing is certain, Ozzy remains the undisputed king of metal.