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51YEVzbt-OL. SL500 AA300 There’s something to be said about going out on top, and at this point there’s no guarantee that OZZY OSBOURNE will be able to pull that off. After my first listen to Ozzy’s latest album SCREAM, I told the first person I spoke to afterward that the album was “pretty terrible.” After listening to it again, that statement was not accurate. The album is actually pretty solid, but not for OZZY.

Like the past few albums, Osbourne’s vocals are more Darth Vader – as in “more machine now,” processed to synthetic perfection, tweaked beyond the power of mere mortal man. While I give Ozzy all the respect in the world for keeping the rock flowing as long as he can, there’s simply no good way to fight the aging process, nor peel back the years of abuse that have taken their toll on Ozzy’s once-powerful vocal prowess.

Musically, SCREAM sounds familiar in a very un-Ozzy way – at times becoming almost like a collection of ROB ZOMBIE b-sides. Perhaps having both ex-Zombie bassist BLASKO (a longtime member of Ozzy’s band) and recently-ex-Zombie drummer TOMMY CLUFETOS in the mix has infected the Osbourne camp with some of the Zombie-esque flavor – though the departure of BLACK LABEL SOCIETY guitarist ZAKK WYLDE certainly adds to the sonic change. In Wylde’s place is GUS G., a Greek guitarist best known for playing in FIREWIND, in addition to stints with ARCH ENEMY and DREAM EVIL. G’s playing is less epic than his prior works, but his synth-like tone also helps add to the Zombie-eque musical qualities on display here. For the next album they might as well toss MIKE RIGGS or JOHN 5 into the mix to complete the collection.

Similarities aside, the album has it’s moments with tracks like the first single “Let Me Hear You Scream” destined to become arena anthems, and the heavy riffage of “Diggin’ Me Down” recalling a pinch of the departed Zakk Wylde with harmonic squeals and sludgey groove.

In the end, SCREAM will likely yield a couple of singles that will do well on radio and stay in moderate rotation for awhile before the album becomes a distant memory like BLACK RAIN or DOWN TO EARTH – both of which were ushered in with much fanfare only to become stagnant members of the back catalog. 

Now it’s time to go pop in THE ESSENTIAL OZZY OSBOURNE as a pallet cleanser and reminder of what great Ozzy sounds like.

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

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