Ozzy Osbourne - Black RainI had high hopes for the new Ozzy Osbourne album. In pre-release interviews Zakk Wylde continually referenced No More Tears as the benchmark to which this had to live up to, and our loyal readers will know well that No More Tears is far and away our favorite Ozzy album. Unfortunately Black Rain doesn’t even come close to No More Tears; aside from a few pretty good tracks, this album is a mostly forgettable collection of some good Zakk Wylde riffs and a bunch of mediocre songs.

Lead single “I Don’t Wanna Stop” is about as good as the album gets, an uptempo rocker with a bluesy, vintage Zakk Wylde riff and a lyrical theme that’s pretty obvious from the title given that it’s sung by a 58 year old rocker. Album opener “Not Going Away” continues with this lyrical theme on top of a mid-tempo doom-metalish template that’s kind of a throwback to Ozzy’s Sabbath days. Though it’s a decent enough song, unfortunately it falls short of the gusto of both the lead single or any Sabbath material. To his credit, the ever-reliable Wylde delivers some delicious tri-tones in the mid-song solo, an unexpected but welcome variation from a shredder who usually sticks to straight pentatonic.

From there on in it’s all downhill. The title track has a couple of cool riffs and even a harmonica interlude, but ultimately the song is lacking something as a whole. If I could sum up my gripe with this album the last sentence describes it; plenty of cool individual parts, but the songs for the most part are lacking. The album isn’t short on ballads and mid-tempo tunes, but nothing even comes close to “Mama I’m Comin’ Home” or even “I Just Want You” from 1995’s Ozzmosis.

Fortunately Black Rain is saved from complete suckdom by two more rockers, “11 Silver” and album closer “Trap Door,” the latter of which is actually a really solid, heavy track. Despite some genuinely good riffs and sections, again I feel slightly gypped in the overall song construction department with both of these. “Civilize the Universe” has a decent enough chorus, but again… I’m just left feeling that Ozzy and Zakk could have cranked it up another notch. Thankfully good ol’ reliable Wylde keeps things interesting with his usual top-notch shredtastic solos.

This album isn’t bad, it’s just that it doesn’t even touch some of Ozzy’s best material. Might it be time for Ozzy to part ways with Zakk Wylde and find the next young guitar stud? My good friend Axl is going to write about this very suggestion in the near future. In the meantime, following the final spin I’ve just given this album to write this review (and I gave it a fair shot folks, I really did — I listened to the whole thing 5 times through) I’m afraid it’s going to end up on my CD shelf not to be touched for a long time, if ever. Fortunately I get two “free” Ozzfest tickets with my purchase — oh wait, that’s not much of a consolation either.


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