Black Rain

Ozzy Osbourne

Epic, 2007

REVIEW BY: Ben McVicker

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/22/2010

In 1991, Ozzy Osbourne released No More Tears, a well-received album that was arguably his best since the glory days of the Randy Rhoads era.  He embarked on a tour that was supposed to be his last go-round before fading into the sunset, a high-profile expedition that ended with an abbreviated set alongside his former Black Sabbath bandmates.  It seemed a fitting end to his career. 

He should have quit while he was ahead.

Fast forward to 2010, and Ozzy is still recording and still touring – folks, it is not a pretty sight.  Or sound for that matter, if you’ve seen him in concert of late. While it’s an improvement over 2001’s

Down To Earth and arguably superior to some of his work from the hair metal days, there is nonetheless an air of desperation about the songs on Black Rain. Hearing Ozzy crooning, “I Don’t Wanna Stop” and telling us that he’s “Not Going Away” has a certain irony to it given the 61 year old frontman’s continued decline in recent years. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Just two tracks in, I found myself scratching my head at the sound of this album. Never before has Ozzy sounded so lifeless. Layer after layer of vocal overdubs, tinny guitar leads, and digital effects…perhaps Osbourne and producer Kevin Churko thought if they could heap on the vocal tracks, it would overshadow Ozzy’s lack of range and add to the heaviness. This said, Black Rain is surprisingly decent save for a pair of miserable ballads that try to ape the success of “Dreamer” from Down To Earth.  A number of tracks – “Trap Door,” “Black Rain,” for instance – have some great spots, and the centerpiece of the album is a pair of solid, heavy rock tunes: “The Almighty Dollar” and "Silver.” “Dollar” is something of an oddity for Ozzy, clocking in at nearly seven minutes in length, with an uncharacteristic political bent. It’s one of the better riffs on the album, with a solid bass line to match. Even Mike Bordin, one of the most robotic drummers this side of AC/DC, adds to the song. “Silver” is carried by some up-tempo riffing, with Zakk adding his only memorable solo of the disc. At one point it sounds strikingly close to Randy Rhoads in “Over the Mountain.”

The best tracks, however, are available either via iTunes or a ‘tour edition’ rerelease of Black Rain.  A trio of darker songs, they have a feeling closer to the heavy numbers on 1995’s Ozzmosis.  “Nightmare” kicks off with a delicate piano intro, with Zakk turning in a simple but effective riff, and Ozzy giving his best vocal performance of the album. John Sinclair’s keyboards act as a good foil for Ozz on this track, really bringing out his voice in the chorus. “I Can’t Save You” has a hard, fast groove to it featuring some of the catchiness that gave Ozzy’s early work such appeal. “Love To Hate,” meanwhile, features Zakk’s heaviest riffing on Black Rain next to “The Almighty Dollar.” He lets loose a sickly, contorted solo on this one, and Ozzy sounds quite good.

This release is a step up from Ozzy’s previous couple efforts, and even has a few pleasant surprises to it in the form of the bonus tracks, which are certainly worth a trip to iTunes.  That said, the album has an air of redundancy about it. Lacking any real variety or standout singles, it leaves you wondering if Ozzy should have called it a day ten years ago.

Rating: B-

User Rating: C+


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