Review Summary: Do they sell tea in Heaven?
Ozzy’s twelfth studio album is drenched in the macabre; Ordinary Man
is an intensely poignant, self-referencing analysis on his accomplishments, mistakes, and the intense love he has for his family and friends. The thing is, while he affirms all the highs and lows of his life on this record, he constantly references his own imminent death. Ordinary Man
mirrors the same hazy deadweight that hangs on the shoulders of David Bowie’s Blackstar
, the only difference between the two LPs is that Ozzy takes those themes of reflection, what we leave behind, and the constant awareness of death looming over him and intensifies it with a more overt, almost blasé taunt to Death himself. If it wasn’t for Ozzy’s humorous charm all over this thing, I’d have probably been reduced to tears at times. Indeed, thematically, I haven’t been this moved by a record before or since Blackstar
, nor did I really expect to find it in an Ozzy Osbourne album. But when you sit and think about it, as sad as it is to say, Ordinary Man
could well be the last album we get from the seventy-one-year-old Prince of Darkness, and I surmise Ozzy knew that when he was writing the LP.
Lathered in contemplation, almost every song here touches on his inner demons, haunted mistakes, addictions, death, and his legacy. The heart-wrenching musings on “All My Life” where he reflects on his loneliness, alcoholism, and missed opportunities, before finishing off with “Heaven can take me, but no one can save me from Hell again, you'll never erase me, I'm back on the road again”
– a lyric I can only assume references the eternal legacy he’ll leave behind once this album/tour cycle sees itself out. “Goodbye” literally embraces and accepts the afterlife, as he laments “I say goodbye to romance, yeah goodbye to friends, I tell you. Goodbye to all the past, I guess that we'll meet, we'll meet in the end”
. While Ozzy ponders on what his final thoughts will be just before his soul egresses his body on “Holy for Tonight”. Ruminations of life and death are ubiquitous in Ordinary Man
, they aren’t a cheap afterthought and they maintain their dominance throughout – which is why it’s a shame to report the instrumentals bring a disparity to Ozzy’s endeavours.
Instrumentally and compositionally the album is a scattershot of ideas that lack the cohesion, sophistication and presentation David Bowie’s last album claims to possess. The ballads are the most effective and tightly written pieces on Ordinary Man
, while the Black Label Society-esque sludge riffs on “Eat Me”, “Today Is the End” and “Goodbye” (ironically not performed or written by Zakk) bring the relevant tools to the table. But there’s just so many sloppy transitions dotted around most of the tracks here – like “Goodbye”’s high-octane chorus – that it makes things difficult to catapult Ozzy’s meaningful lyrics into the stratosphere. The awful Travis Scott guested “Take What You Want”, Ozzy’s flat and generic melodies on “Scary Little Green Men”, or the derivative and corny “Straight to Hell” does little to gel this album together or make it the accolade it should have been. There’s a lot of guests on this album and it brings a heterogeneous quality to Ordinary Man
, but for the most part this aspect turns detrimental to the overall vision. Ozzy should have banded together a small fixture of musicians for the album and ran with a consistent tone that would see his mantra through to the end. Unfortunately, the end result is an engrossing number of tales written and smothered by slapdash and generic songwriting, which is a damn shame when you look at the bigger picture.
FORMAT//EDITIONS: DIGITAL/̶/̶C̶D̶/̶/̶V̶I̶N̶Y̶L̶/̶/̶V̶A̶R̶I̶O̶U̶S̶ ̶B̶U̶N̶D̶L̶E̶S̶
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A
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