Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Album Review : Scream - Ozzy Osbourne 8*

Being the guitarist for Ozzy is rather like being in any incarnation of Thin Lizzy, you always have that ghost looming over your shoulder. Previous job incumbent Zack Wylde dispensed this by becoming physically and musically bigger and heavier than Randy Rhodes, although without quite the deftness of touch that Rhodes had.

Osbourne band new boy Gus G (aka Kostas Karamitroudis) from Greek power metallers Firewind then sounds like another deliberate change in style. Is Scream a dual lead guitar, widdly fretwank over dubbed thing with the Dark Lord attempting some Hammerfall/Sonata Arctica style melodies ? Is it buggery, it is massively heavy with huge riffs and just enough solos to make it proper trad metal, there's hardly a hint of power/symphonic stuff here.

Gus G has his guitar sound and style nicely in between Iommi and Wylde and with a light touch on songs like Life Won't Wait that nods towards Rhodes and Blackmore.

The whole band have really pulled out the stops for this album. Ozzy's last couple of efforts seem a little tired and formulaic compared to this collection of cleverly worked and fresh sounding metal songs.

Just listen to Diggin' Me Down, the slow build up grinds its way up to the first chords, and they fall into the song like iron ingots dropped off a tall building, boom, that Tony Iommi right there. Less obvious are the predictable verse-chorus-solo songs, DMD twists and changes into an almost acoustic mid section before climaxing in an almost Countdown era Megadeth blitz.

This versatility is all over the album, and the light and heavy style and time changes have opened up Ozzy's style. Fearless opens up like any of a dozen Black Label Society songs, and then it is almost like a challenge, it's as if Ozzy and Gus are saying "Hey, BLS could be this good if they were just a little more adaptable, a little less dedicated to those blurred and sludgy riffs."

Elsewhere on the album there are the chorus driven crowd pleasers like Let Me Hear You Scream and the obligatory balled Time, rendered better than nearly all previous Ozzy ballads by allowing Gus to make it heavier and more structured, actually it's more heavy metal lite than ballad if you get my drift.

This could well be the trad metal album of the year, the OAP Prince Of Darkness is well and truly back and on great form with a highly capable supporting cast.

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