No Rest For The Wicked

Ozzy Osbourne

Epic, 1988

REVIEW BY: Ben McVicker

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/30/2007

If ever there was a forgotten album in Ozzy Osbourne’s solo discography, 1988’s No Rest For The Wicked would be it. His previous effort, The Ultimate Sin, had yielded a hit single with “Shot In The Dark”, but was otherwise devoid of memorable tracks. Many criticized the Prince of Darkness for selling out to the audio and visual clichés of hair metal. Furthermore, the 1987 release of Tribute, a live album featuring original guitarist Randy Rhoads, spurred additional fears that Ozzy no longer had the spark and motivation to write infectious hard rock songs.

No Rest For The Wicked can hardly be called a comeback album (that title belongs to 1991’s No More Tears), but it is nonetheless a marked improvement over Ozzy’s mid-80es output. Parts of it are cheesy and cater to the trends of the times, but others possess a darkness and energy that had been sorely lacking in Osbourne’s solo output during the Jake E. Lee era.

Much of the Ozzy’s reinvigorated sound is due to the input of guitarist Zakk Wylde. Wylde was a mere 21 when he was recruited to play on this album, and he turns in a very lively performance here. Many, including myself, have criticized Wylde for his signature overuse of squeal harmonics, but he uses them quite sparingly on this album, at least in comparison to his later work with Ozzy. And his sound is far meatier than Jake E. Lee’s or Brad Gillis’s. bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250

The album kicks off on a strong note with two memorable numbers. “Miracle Man” features some great buzzsaw riffing, and the song oozes with cynicism as Ozzy makes a verbal assault on disgraced televangelist Jimmy Swaggart. “Devil’s Daughter (Holy War)” is a bit hokey and lacks the catchiness of the opening track, but it’s funny to listen to, as Zakk sounds so restrained and civilized compared to his later work with Ozzy. About three minutes in though, Wylde lets loose some heavy riffing and tears into a solo that blends catchiness, humor and shred into a single package.

“Crazy Babies” and “Breakin’ All The Rules” are a bit of a disappointing change of pace after the two fast-paced opening tracks. These two are mindless headbanging songs aimed squarely at the MTV generation. Goofy, pedestrian rock tunes that might be fun to sing along to in a stadium full of intoxicated metalheads, but will inevitably have one pressing the skip button while listening on their home stereo.

After repeated listens, one notices a bit of a see-saw pattern to the songs on this album. It tends to veer back and forth from two quality songs to a pair of commercial fist-pumpers, and back again. “Bloodbath In Paradise” is an up-tempo rocker with some violent lyrics and a catchy riff, followed by “Fire In The Sky,” an anomaly in Ozzy’s solo catalog that is a quiet, spacey ballad that stretches over six minutes in length, occasionally flirting with a heavier sound in the chorus. It’s a bit uneven, but still an interesting listen.

The rest of the disc is a bit weak. “Tattooed Dancer” and “Demon Alcohol” each have decent riffs, but both songs try too hard to effect a dark and evil vibe. Forgettable filler, made noteworthy only by some catchy guitar riffs courtesy of Zakk Wylde. A pair of power-ballads, “Hero” and “The Liar,” close the album. Both tracks are above average as far as Ozzy’s softer numbers go, with the former being upbeat and catchy and the latter a more melancholy affair. Neither is anywhere near as melodramatic and digitized as Ozzy's later output. 

No Rest For The Wicked lacks a hit single along the lines of “Shot In The Dark,” and it hasn’t aged as well as some of the other albums in Ozzy’s discography. But it is an important album in his solo career, as it marked the beginning of his longest songwriting partnership (with Zakk Wylde). There are also a handful of lesser-known tunes that feature some pretty rockin’ moments.

Perhaps most significantly, Ozzy pulled out of what had begun to look like a career nosedive and recaptured a bit of the catchy, riff-oriented hard rock sound that gave his early solo records such long-lasting appeal.

Rating: C+

User Rating: B+

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© 2007 Ben McVicker and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic, and is used for informational purposes only.