Diary of a Madman, Ozzy Osbourne’s second studio release was pretty much recorded back to back with his debut Blizzard of Oz; it was released in November 1981. This album is sadly the last album Randy Rhoads appears in because on March 19 1982, he died along with one other friend after a plane they rented crashed. Having to deal with this sudden tragic loss, Ozzy delved into a sort of emotional insanity. Yet, since this all happened after the album was finished, it has no effect what so ever on the music. One would expect that after the huge success of Blizzard of Oz, this album that was released not much later, would be just as successful and just as brilliant musically. In terms of success, it might have been at the time. In terms of music, it doesn’t even come close to equaling its predecessor.
Diary of a Madman starts off in a very promising manner. The first three songs are quite good. Over the Mountain, the opening track starts with a drum intro that leads into a heavy but simple palm muted riff. Ozzy’s singing is catchy the riffs are pretty good. Plus, the song doesn’t drag on for too long. Next comes, Flying High Again. Although it sounds more like a rock song than a metal song, it still is a fun song to listen to. It is quite catchy and the lyrics are very appealing and make you wanna sing along. Then comes the best track on the album, You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll. It starts off pretty soft and melodic and the energy arrives for the chorus. After the second chorus, we are treated to a nice solo by Mr. Rhoads. Although, it seems to drag on a bit, I still think this song is brilliant. After hearing these songs, one would start to think that this album is pretty strong and different from Blizzard if Oz. It seems to be more serious and more mature. The problem is, it all goes downhill form here. In the next five tracks, all of the melody and Ozzy usually so masterfully combines with Randy’s heavy riffs is gone. And when it is there, the song still seems to fall short of excellence. This whole part of the album, with the exception of the title track almost feels like filler.
Track number four is called believer. It starts with an annoying bass line that is repeated for too long, as Randy plays a few harmonics over it. The song seems to stay on the same level and never pick up. So much so, that the verse is hard to distinguish from the chorus. This is probably the weakest song on the album. Next comes Little Dolls. It begins with a decent riff that fulfills its purpose to make the intro seem heavy. After a while, Ozzy starts singing about voodoo dolls and the song seems to be really good. Yet, the chorus is too short and doesn’t seem to take the song anywhere. Then after the second chorus, there is a sort of mid section that changes things up a little but still doesn’t bring the song anywhere new. Not as bad as Believer but still not too stellar. Track six is entitled Tonight. It is quite melodic and seems to be quite emotionally powerful. Yet, when Ozzy sings the verse he makes the song sound cheesy and weak. Fortunately, the chorus is catchy and moving at the same time. Ozzy is able to bring back the melody to Randy’s energetic playing. The verse is what really brings the song down though. S.A.T.O is the next track, and in my opinion it is simply filler. It is fast paced and energetic but merely seems not to go anywhere similarly to other tracks on this album such as Believer. The lyrics are also quite vague and although somewhat interesting, were probably written quickly. Luckily Randy busts out a little solo that really compliments the song. It is still a pretty average song. The last song is Diary of a Madman, the title track. It is probably the darkest sounding song on the album with eerie melodies and a haunting vocal delivery by Ozzy. In addition, there are several parts of the song where some string arrangement plays a few melodies. This song would be excellent but it falls a bit short for similar reasons as other songs on the album. The song stays on the same level for almost the whole approximately six and a half minutes. That with the length of the song makes it a little boring. Yet, it is very apparent that it was well thought out and it isn’t that bad of a song.
Bottom line: The follow up to Ozzy Osbourne’s definitive album and debut does not reach the level of excellence that Blizzard of oz did. With Diary, it seems that a new approach was used. Ozzy wanted to try something new. Yet, since the album was quickly released after Blizzard of Oz, I think Diary was rushed. Maybe if the band had had more time to polish and change a few parts this album could have been much better. Moreover, it is not that bad an album. The rhythm section is quite good in every song, with strong bass lines and steadfast drumming, and Randy Rhoads just goes about being the exquisite guitar player he is. In many songs, even the weaker ones, he delivers some pretty good solos. I would recommend this album to any Ozzy fan just to check it out, or to any guitar player just so he or she can listen to Randy Rhoads’ signature style for inspiration.
Recommended songs: Over the Mountain, Flying High Again, You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll.
Final rating: 3/5 A decent album but it lacks memorable songs.
Ozzy Osbourne: Vocals
Randy Rhoads: Guitar
Bob Daisley: Bass
Lee Kerslake: Drums