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Art imitating life. - 61%

hells_unicorn, March 6th, 2008

Ozzy’s career as a solo artist is loaded with good and bad, most of the bad being localized in the latter half of it. The one exception is “Bark at the Moon”, the album that saw the former Sabbath front man in the aftermath of a tragedy with no musical better to keep his direction consistent. Likewise, most of the drama going on in his life culminated in this era of his tenure as a metal vocalist, much of it probably the consequence of losing Randy and trying to bury the pain with substance abuse. If one cliché is again proven accurate in all of this, it is that art ultimately imitates life.

If I could sum up this rather confused opus in a single statement, it would be “All over the damned place”. There is no semblance of order to speak of; the pacing could be described as incongruous, and the stylistic variations from song to song gives the impression of a schizophrenic just starting to come off of his medication. Of course, when you consider the personal turmoil going on in Ozzy’s life, an album like this was probably the best thing that the core Ozzy fan could hope for.

When you take each song on here individually, a fair amount of what is on here is actually pretty good, although the mix job between the keyboards and the guitars does hold back several of the better songs unfortunately. “Waiting for Darkness” is the most blatant example of the keyboards being too prominent and stealing the thunder from the guitars at several points. Likewise, “Center of Eternity” goes overboard on the keyboard intro, making the listener wait for over a minute before getting into some pretty solid up tempo metal.

Most of the rest of the music on here is passable up tempo rock that would be better if Ozzy could come up with a single hook that the rest of the song could culminate around. “Rock and Roll Rebel” and “Slow Down” suffer from this musical meandering, the latter having a fairly solid chorus, although the overloud keyboards sneak in at several points to rob the guitar tracks of their power. Jake E. Lee pumps out some pretty solid riffs and leads in all of these, but at times he seems to be trying just a bit too hard and ends up using too many flashy tricks before the solo is halfway through.

The obvious highlight on here is the only song on here that most still remember, the title track. On its own it rivals and upstages most of the Randy Rhodes prototype speed rockers, which can not be said about anything else on here. It is also the only song where Jake E. Lee’s over-the-top soloing really fits together with what is going on around it. The remaining 2 ballads on here are utter throwaways; basically being all keyboards and no metal, one a synthesizer happy 80s pop ballad, the other a bad version of a Beatles homage that is only slightly less offensive to the ears as the more recent one “Dreamer”.

This is not something that should be purchased at full price, and even at two thirds price is a bit steep when you consider the lack of anything truly amazing save one song. It’s not a complete throwaway, but when you take into account all of the things wrong with this album, it isn’t something that you can brag about owning. Finding a legal download of the title track and “Center of Eternity” is all that is really worth getting, and perhaps also “Slow Down”. If you want to hear Ozzy at his best not only with Jake E. Lee, but of his entire solo career, pick up “The Ultimate Sin”.