Generally when a band’s name is the lead singer’s name, it’s assumed that the singer is the biggest asset they have. That seems logical, put your best foot forward and hope the rest keep up. So why is Ozzy Osbourne–the singer, not the band– who just happens to be the worst aspect of Scream, this album’s centre-piece? I am confident that the guitarist could produce his own solo career and do a decent job of it, and I’m also confident he’d be a better singer then no-need-to-improve Osbourne. Let’s be honest here, Ozzy is doing what he’s always done and he’s getting away with it because of his reputation. It doesn’t matter that his latest work is about as relevant to today’s metal scene as Britney Spears, his past efforts have cemented his place in the hall of fame, which is all you really need to sell records these days.
But that’s the funny thing, he’s never been good. His biggest hits (Crazy Train, for example) were only good because of the guitarist, Randy Rhodes, and he’s dead now. So what we’re left with is a B grade rock album from an aging singer, still clinging to the belief that he’s worth something. For proof of this just listen to the closing track, “I Love You All”, it’s one minute of fake ambience, basically picked guitar and then Ozzy telling us “For all these years you stood beside me, God bless, I love you all.” Make no mistake, this is not a sincere “aww, thanks guys, you’re wonderful.” It sounds more like a last attempt to reconcile his demons, which fails when juxtaposed with the opening lines from “Let It Die”: “I’m a rockstar, I’m a dealer.”
Scream might have been accepted as a typical, mainstream metal release, but it’s middle section makes that laughable. When “Digging Me Down” starts out you could be forgiven for thinking Opeth were given a guest spot and then put zero effort into it. Until the chorus comes in that is, because after that it’s more like a mid-tempo Devildriver. That’s right, the song emulates two bands and doesn’t use the best parts of either of them. Through all this, the man himself continually whines, occasionally slipping into something harsher, but never for long enough. That’s what’s most frustrating about this album, it could have been so much more if real effort had actually been put into it. If Ozzy had really let loose in “Digging Me Down”, it would have saved the song, and if he didn’t sound so pathetic on the last track… Actually, if the last track didn’t exist at all, the album would be better. The centrepiece here, Osbourne, is so annoying that when he says he loves us, I truly can’t believe it. If he did then why is he churning out these bottom-of-the-bargain-bin releases?
That being said, there are redeeming features. When taken as a typical, mainstream metal release, the album succeeds. “Let It Die” is actually pretty catchy, as is “Soul Sucker”. Those are the kind of songs that I’ll return to when I want a bit of fun in my listening schedule. The new guitarist (Ozzy dropped Zack Wyld because he “fancied a change”), Gus G, isn’t that bad. His solos, as well as his riffs, are quite enjoyable from time to time. He’s still got a long way to go before he reaches legendary status, but considering he’s only 30, potential is imminent.
It’s time for Ozzy Osbourne to admit that he’s no longer relevant, that he’s pissing on his legacy (which shouldn’t have been his in the first place, but that’s another issue), and that he’s lost the respect of most of the metal world. Well, except for Slash, but he’s just as bad.
Really? I've always considered him the worst part of Sabbath, am I missing something?
Their classic sound was partially defined by Osbourne, and although he's a pretty bad singer, his voice was the perfect fit for their eerie music. Take War Pigs, Ozzy's'vocals are pure gold on that song.