Ozzy Osbourne – Black Rain
Epic Records (5/22/07)
Rock / Metal
“You may see the mushroom, but you won’t hear the blast.”
â€”from “Countdown’s Begun”
Ozzy Osbourne has been pretty vocal about making sure that it’s known that he thinks his latest album, Black Rain, should have been the album to follow-up 1991’s No More Tears. While the two releases one would be forced to ignore in that case, Ozzmosis and Down to Earth, were largely commercial endeavors, there were more than a couple of songs that shouldn’t be lost and/or forgotten. Black Rain does, however, return to that more raw, rocking, classic Ozzy feel.
It’s near impossible to review an Ozzy Osbourne album, given his status as royalty to any rock/metal fan. As with any Ozzy release, what you see is what you get. Zakk Wylde riffs it up throughout the album, and Ozzy’s digitally-distorted voice is front and center, but the rest is nothing but pure filler.
The album opener, “Not Going Away”, acts as a mission statement of sorts (â€œI’ve got nothing to hide, I’m not guilty inside / I won’t give up / After all I’m still crazy, I’m not going awayâ€) and basically sets the tone for the rest of the disc: riff-heavy rock music, hard-hitting drumming and Ozzy’s trademark wail. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. “I Don’t Wanna Stop” is catchy enough, even if the lyrics are a little hokey (then again, “Crazy Train” wasnâ€˜t rocket science), and “Lay Your World on Me” is a sweet enough ballad, but it’s no “Mama I’m Comin’ Home”. “Here for You” is a little too saccharine for the album, while the title track sees Ozzy go after politicians and the war, but it kind of makes you long for the days of Sabbath and “War Pigs” more than anything else.
Of particular note is “The Almighty Dollar”, which, at almost seven minutes in length, is probably as close as we’ll get to another “No More Tears” (the song, not the album), and Wylde is particularly blistering with the axe on “11 Silver”. The album closer, “Trap Door”, is the song of the album, grabbing the listener and refusing to let up, as Ozzy hasn’t sounded so intense and insane in years.
In the end, with Black Rain you have your basic Ozzy Osbourne album. Fans will eat it up because, well, it’s new material from Ozzy. Those not yet converted won’t be. Sure, the lyrics may lack a little more than they used to, and there may be a couple more ballads than there were in the old days, but after 30 years I’m pretty sure Ozzy’s earned the right to throw some stuff on there for the Missus every now and again. It’s not his best, and it’s certainly not the album of the year, but there’s something comfortable about an Ozzy album that fans can still enjoy, and enjoy it they should while there’s still new material to be had.
On a side note, re the packaging: The record company went with a â€œless is moreâ€ motif for Black Rain. I can appreciate that to an extent; however, it was clear other packaging was originally intended (the cover artwork used for the European release, as a specific example). In this day of digital downloads, a cardboard slipcase with no liner notes or notebook, this just doesn’t cut it. Fans still into buying albums at a store want something tangible, something to look at, and something worth their money. This was a big misstep in marketing, and the biggest disappointment with the album, in general.