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Tribute to old days - 97%

Genzel, November 27th, 2008

Ozzy has always been a controversial, in both good ways and in some bad ways. He's always been slightly mad, and that has given him a slight edge to other metal artists, who try to build up good metal albums with focusing and without any illegal drugs. Ozzy has been down and out of the game, but has always returned with some good music. Ozzy may be disliked by many, but his music has always been the highest rank what it comes to heavy metal.

The album starts with a jamming drum and guitar sounds and soon breaks loose as the madman himself sings, this time with a different, yet good, voice. The album is about Ozzys brand topics, war, drugs and madness. This album is kind of similar to Ozzys two mid 1980's glam metal albums, The Ultimate Sin and No Rest For The Wicked, and its the best album of those three.

Zakk Wylde's solos are traditional and heavy. They are althought tad too short for a marathon listen, but in a quick listen they're amazingly good. Zakk show's only a handful of his skill what it comes to playing guitar. He sounds just like modern metal bands with his juicy shredding and pinch harmonics, shaking some of the finest techniques that are out there in guitar playing.

Afterall Ozzy is still crazy, and this album is a focused effort to really move mountains and fluid your brains with good metal and rock riffs. It's so powerful album that it can make your mood change, it can make you cry or smile. Best tracks are Not Going Away, Here For You and Countdowns Begun. The first mentioned is a fast scything metal song with a lenghty Zakk solo. Here For You has some of the finest moments in modern metal treasured in it. Countdowns Begun is a traditional Ozzy song, with Zakk shredding every time he gets an opportunity.

Pop metal - 50%

Nhorf, May 31st, 2008

Meh, I never was a big fan of Ozzy's solo catalogue. I absolutely love the Ozzy period of Black Sabbath though; while he isn't, technically, the best singer out there, his voice is absolutely unique and despite he sounds a bit annoying on the last records he have done with the Sabs (“Technical Ecstasy”, “Never Say Die!”), his voice perfectly fits the band's music. After all, where would be Black Sabbath without a dynamic (some times TOO dynamic) frontman as Ozzy?
Then, Ozzy Osbourne leaved Black Sabbath to form his own solo band. His first album, called “Blizzard of Ozz”, was just decent, mainly because of Rhandy Roads, a genius guitar player with all those amazing riffs and solos (“Mr. Crowley” comes to mind) complementing Ozzy's vocals perfectly.

Then, Ozzy went downhill, every album being a bit worse than its predecessor. Nevertheless, he still is a famous musician, mainly because he sold his soul to MTV and created his own talk-show on that same channel. Six years after the release of his last original album, “Down to Earth”, it was announced that Ozzy was ready to release a new one. Obviously no one expected “Black Rain” to rule. First of all, because Ozzy is OLD. No one can deny that. He barely can sing, his voice is extremely computerized here and it sounds like he just read loudly the lyrics in the studio and then the engineers, with all those computers, made it sound like he was really singing instead of just speaking. And also because Ozzy isn't (never was!) a good composer. Everyone knows that the sucess he had with his early albums were mainly because of Rhandy's guitar work and Bob Daysley's songwriting abilities. Now his guitarist is Zakk Wilde, a guy that shows some good, southern-influenced, riffs here but isn't the most brilliant songwriter ever.

The result is a bunch of forgettable tunes, all of them showing a vast emphasis on the choruses as every song of this piece is extremely CATCHY. That's the main characteristic of “Black Rain”: its catchiness. This may work well sometimes, hell, every album needs hooks and good choruses, in my opinion, but hey, there's TOO much emphasis on them here, and, in the end, “Black Rain” is not very varied. Anyways, we have some calm ballads here, “Lay your World on Me” and “Here for You”, both extremely (again) catchy, but they sound a bit... lifeless. It's like they have no feeling at all. It's like they are there just because Ozzy had to deliver one or two ballads. And that's bad.

The rest of “Black Rain” doesn't help either. The first two songs are catchy and that's cool, I thought. But then the next one followed the same structure, and the other followed it too, and with the other the same thing... Meh, it's frustrating. But, hey. There are a few highlights. “Not Going Away” is pretty decent, being carried on by an excellent riff (after all, Wilde is a good “riff-maker”), the same thing with “I Don't Wanna Stop”. “Trap Door” is another cool, decently fast song and the title track has an interesting beginning. “The Allmighty Dollar” is another personal favourite, being the longest song of the record and containing a chorus that actually sounds good.

About the bass and drums, they both are very competent. The bass is audible and that's a plus, undoubtely. In fact, the production is top notch (hell it's Ozzy, what would you expect?), everything is very well mixed and audible. The drums are also solid, not technical but solid and rather tasteful.

So, summing up, this a good album for parties, since it's catchy and dynamic, but it isn't a masterpiece... I give it 50 points, but later, with time, I'll consider if it deserves (or not) that rating. Anyway, like another reviewer already stated, there's an end for everything, and the end of Ozzy's career is near, I think.

Lackluster.

Best Moments of the CD:
-the beginning of “11 Silver”.

I didn't know what to expect....... - 80%

headbanger54, October 2nd, 2007

Back in February, it was announced that this year's Ozzfest would be free, but the question of how to aquire tickets still loomed in the air for a few months. Finally it was decided that people who bought Ozzy's new album, Black Rain, would have first shots at the tickets. So in a frenzied madness, myself and thousands of others flocked to local music stores in search of this album upon release. This is where many come from judging this album, I for one thought it would be a pile of shit and just a gimmick to get Ozzy sales in return for Ozzfest tickets. But then again, this is the Prince of Darkness.....right? Well sorta.

For one this album was much higher than my expectations. The album is filled with a heaviness in every song that also contains very melodic, and very catchy choruses. You can hear the familiar harmonics and pentatonic scales being shredded away from guitarist Zakk Wylde. The solo's on this album are a high point which are in nearly every song. You can frequently hear the bass which adds to the heaviness of the album. There are two ballads on the CD though. One of which, Lay Your World On Me, isn't that bad. But the other, Here For You, is dreadfull, in my opinion the worst on this album. These two songs bring dowm the overall feel of the album greatly, and are evenly spaced on the 4th, and 8th tracks. The drumming isn't really anything special, and that lasts the whole album.

Ozzy on this album sounds.....different. Now of course I didn't expect to hear anything like on Blizzard of Oz, but I also didn't think he would sound as good as he does. On a few songs you can hear a bit of digital play with Ozzy's voice, it does make it sound good, but a little depressing to hear that happen to the Ozzman. Not all the lyrics are written by him, and some of them plain out suck. But you can still find some pretty decent lyrics in some of the songs.

Now back to the whole Ozzfest story.....Well, this cd was definitely worth the two Ozzfest tickets. Would it be if it weren't for the tickets? Yes, this is a pretty damn good album. Alot of people compare this to Blizzard of Oz and then say that this album is crap, no shit! Blizzard of Oz was a masterpiece, and it would be pretty hard for Ozzy to ever match that again. But this album is a worthy token of Ozzy and " I Don't Wanna Stop" dominated rock radio stations all throughout the summer. To wrap this up, Black Rain is a downright heavy/sludge album with even a bit of a doom feel to it which is a great selection for any fan of Ozzy, or anyone new to metal.

Black Label Society Drippage - 52%

hells_unicorn, August 17th, 2007

For being one of the many who called for Ozzy to hang it up after the horrid debacle otherwise known as “Ozzmosis”, my expectations on this album were about as low as they could possibly get, I didn’t even bothered to buy it and instead opted to borrow it from a friend. Surprisingly enough, Ozzy was actually able to surpass my expectations, although that really isn’t saying much as I still don’t plan to buy it. I’m only mildly familiar with Black Label Society’s work, but what I’ve heard definitely points to Ozzy begging Zakk Wylde to pump some of his success into his ever sinking credibility on here.

As a whole, this album is very predictable and offers little by way of climactic moments. The riffs are fairly mechanical, the vocal tracks and overall atmosphere sounds pretty synthetic, but this seems to work well for Ozzy as he’s never really been one to light up the stage with his voice. “Trap Door” and “I Don’t Wanna Stop” are the best of the endless barrage of mid-tempo work on here, although the title track does have some interesting middle-eastern sounds that come and go occasionally. “Trap Door” actually picks up quite well about halfway through, and highlights Ozzy’s least offensive vocal delivery in quite a while.

However, with only 2 other exceptions this album is very flat and doesn’t vary a lot from the mechanical rock feel. The first exception is a rather boring ballad that takes my pick for the lone crap sandwich on the album, titled as “Here for you”. Although the piano line and mellow atmosphere is only slightly less offensive than the original Ozzy ballad/abomination from his Sabbath days “Changes”, Ozzy’s over processed vocals send it down into the gutter; only Cher topped this level of processed garbage with that horrendous techno album 9 years ago that is still likely to keep the suicide rate on this planet sky high. The second exception is the album’s standout track “11 Silver”, which is the fastest one on here, and a somewhat decent attempt at recapturing the spirit of Rhandy Rhodes cookers like “I Don’t Know” and “Over the Mountain”. Zakk’s guitar solo is on point, and Ozzy’s vocals do well to shy away from that high range that he’s never truly been able to handle well since Sabotage.

This album will likely sit well with younger fans of Ozzy’s music and fans of Black Label Society who don’t mind hearing Zakk’s droning down-tuned guitar riffs being recycled under Ozzy’s label, but otherwise you’d be well advised to stick to the pre-1990s material. Black Rain may fall on Ozzy on this rather goofy looking album cover, but the only thing resembling it that you’ll likely get from listening to it is the desire to pack your ears with stones in order to give this album the illusion of rocking out.

Middle of the road metal - 62%

Empyreal, June 22nd, 2007

I won't bother with any pretensions or rants about the Osbournes these days, but this is Ozzy's new CD, and the first one he's done sober in...ages. Not being terribly familiar with his older work or the work of Zakk Wylde's band Black Label Society, this review is straight from the hip. While I don't hate Ozzy or this album, it's nothing to get excited over, and certainly won't be making any top 10 lists at the end of the year.

Ozzy has created a very average album with Black Rain. It's fairly generic, with fast songs, some midpaced ones, and the obligatory ballads. Pretty much every single song could be chosen for a radio single, which says a lot about what kind of an album this is. Ozzy's playing it safe, and this is, at it's core, a rock album. None of the songs are complex or challenging, and all of them have catchy choruses and obese, thick riffs and drum beats. It's like a pop album in the respect that it's the kind of thing that you listen to once or twice, then get bored of. Longevity isn't a priority here. The production is perfect, as expected for such a big name release, Zakk Wylde's riffs are Southern-influenced and heavy, and Ozzy's voice is updated with all the latest computer technology. Wonderful.

For the individual songs here, few really stand out. "I Don't Wanna Stop" is my favorite cut here, the advance single, with it's grooving riffage and catchy, shoutalong chorus. The title track is somber and dark, but still catchy, with some rather pessimistic lyrics, and "The Almighty Dollar" is musically proficient, alternating between a heavy groove and a slower, acoustic drone. Generic, but eh, it works. "Civilize the Universe" has a very modern rock-ish chorus, but it's pretty good all the same. And the rest of the songs are mediocre or boring, especially the very trite, groovy "Not Going Away" and the two ballads.

Ozzy's voice, as previously mentioned, is extremely computerized and digital here. His singing voice once belted out classics like "Black Sabbath", "War Pigs", "Hole in the Sky", and "N.I.B.", but this is a far cry from those glory days. Sometimes he doesn't sound too bad, like on "I Don't Wanna Stop" or "Civilize the Universe", but on "Not Going Away", it's just painful to listen to him struggling through the lyrics. So it all balances out to a dreadfully average preformance from the Prince of Darkness.

It's very hard to be disappointed by this, unless for some unfathomable reason you expected the next heavy metal classic of the ages from Ozzy. There's nothing really offensive here, and it's just sickeningly safe, undeniably blaise. Not bad, but Black Rain is just a very standard, catchy rock album, and fans of Ozzy will probably find some things to appreciate here. But overall, you can do much better than this, so stick to the old Black Sabbath vinyls.

This is embarrassing - 30%

Mikesn, May 23rd, 2007

In our lives, everything comes to an end eventually. We all know this. Whether we accept it or not is besides the point, but this is something most of us can comprehend. None of us can escape this cycle of beginnings and endings. I can't. You can't. Michael Jordan couldn't. And no matter how much he doesn't want to stop or thinks that he isn't going away, neither can Ozzy Osbourne. Over his nearly 40 year career, Ozzy has enjoyed some great highs, some terrible lows, but with albums such as Black Sabbath, Paranoid, and Blizzard of Ozz (I can't say I'm much a fan of this one though) Osbourne seems to have solidified his position as the "Prince of Darkness." But not even the "Prince of Darkness" can soldier on forever, and his latest album, Black Rain only proves it. The Ozzman's ninth studio album, to be frank, is quite embarrassing.

Now, I am not the biggest fan of Ozzy's solo material, but I will admit that he has some pretty inspired, catchy tunes. However, you won't be finding any of them on Black Rain. Similarly to Osbourne's guitarist's band's latest album (Zakk Wylde, Black Label Society, and Shot to Hell in case you don't know), Black Rain is among the dullest, most uninspired albums I have ever heard. The band, lead by Ozzy and Zakk, merely plod through 10 tracks in roughly 46 minutes and then it's over. Nothing happens throughout the record which could be considered extraordinary or, hell, even entertaining. Osbourne's crew makes its way through seven generic, mid-paced, sludgy songs, two slower ballads, and one which somewhat combines the elements of both. Being the strongest song on a weak album (which is hardly a compliment); The Almighty Dollar sums Black Rain perfectly. It includes some of the album's heavier moments which entail simple, uninteresting riff-work which might as well have been ripped straight from a Black Label Society song. In between the short bursts of aggressiveness, the band's bassist, Rob Nicholson offers up elongated, directionless bass lines which do little more than make the song longer and duller. Unfortunately, this is probably the strongest track on the album, which speaks volumes about Black Rain, if you ask me.

The worst part of Black Rain, however, is Ozzy himself. No matter how far one looks back in his career; whether he was belting out Children of the Grave in 1971, Crazy Train in 1980, or Perry Manson in 1995, he was never one of the best singers in rock (and at times kind of annoying). But on his latest release his voice is completely shot. Just listen to I Don't Wanna Stop or the title track. He sounds like he sings through his nose, rather than his mouth, and it's extremely irritating. However with Black Rain's ballads (Lay Your World On Me and Here For You) it gets even worse. "The Prince of Darkness" doesn't make any changes to his vocal delivery, meaning we get more of his awful, off key performances. Only this time they fit the music even less. As sappy as it is a nice tribute to Ozzy's fans, it is completely ruined by the monotone. Indeed, it's quite excruciating to listen to, even more so than the rest of the album. But, hey, that's Ozzy for you.

I'm going to be blunt. Black Rain is a very poor offering from one of metal's supposed "gods." Not unlike his 1995 offering Ozzmosis or Black Label Society's 2006 album Shot to Hell, it's boring, uninspired, and poorly put together. When listening it feels as though it was released for the sole purpose of cashing in on Ozzy's popularity, rather than a genuine effort at making music. I do not recommend checking this out at all, unless you enjoy bland, listless rock. Ozzy, I know you don't wanna stop but after Black Rain I don't think hanging it up would be such a bad idea. Honestly…

(Originally written for Sputnikmusic)

Watered Down Black Label Society - 67%

darkreif, May 23rd, 2007

Ozzy Osbourne has had one helluva career. He is one of the world's most recognized front men and yet in the end he isn't even that great of a singer. His charm (and series after series of amazing backing musicians) has allowed his career to prosper long after it could have ended.

Black Rain is both good and bad in different aspects. This album tries very hard to be one of Ozzy's best (at least of the latter part of his career). Unfortunately, there are plenty of hits and misses present on the album.

Having Zakk Wylde as your main song writer and guitarist sounds like a brilliant idea. He is one of the last truly brilliant guitar players and he does strut some of his greatness on Black Rain. The riffs are heavy and the solos are both technical and emotional but what Black Rain suffers from is Zakk's writing. With Black Label Society, Zakk has really hit a sound that he seems to enjoy and that sound has leaked its way into the music on Black Rain. There is definitely a modern southern swag to the mix. When I think of Ozzy I don't think of southern rock - the man is British, so the combination is a little bitter for my taste buds. Zakk's guitar work is very good but he has tried to water down the southern aspect of it and now the album has a watered down BLS feel to it.

The bass and drum work is good - its simple and straightforward - something that many musicians have lost in metal. You play for the music and not for your own glory. This music is pretty mainstream radio friendly so anything with massive bass drum work or complex bass guitar playing isn't going to fly so well. The rhythm section does what it needs to keep the music going in a forward motion. Especially when Zakk goes off with his guitar work - the drums and bass really keep the music grounded.

The album suffers from Ozzy's age. His voice just is not what it used to be. One can still tell that this is Ozzy singing and that it's still remarkable catchy. But one can tell that his voice has been fed through a computer. This is both a blessing and a curse. Its a blessing because at least he does sound fairly good still but its also a curse because one can tell that its been touched up and it loses that great "live" sound that many metal acts strive for.

I think it should be noted that the lyrical content on this album is quite good. Sometimes with Ozzy it's hit or miss but even the ballads (although cliche at times) are fairly well written lyrically. Even the single, I Don't Wanna Stop - has some pretty funny lines if one has followed Ozzy's life.

Overall this is a decent album but a little too simple and southern for my tastes. The heavy influx of BLS sound is something that really doesn't sit well with me, even though it is not horrible. I wish Zakk could write something even more diverse from his own material for Ozzy. Fans of newer Ozzy and Black Label Society are going to love Black Rain.

Songs to check out: Not Going Away, I Don't wanna Stop, Trap Door.

An Amazing Return For the Prince of Darkness - 97%

LeftHandOvGod, May 18th, 2007

Seeing as though this is the first album that Zakk Wylde has really had a strong influence on in terms of the writing of the songs, the similarities between Ozzy Osbourne, the band, and Zakk’s other band, Black Label Society, are more obvious than ever before. The familiar sounds of the sludge riffs and pitched harmonics are present in and throughout every song on this album. If it weren’t for Ozzy’s distinct vocals, this would be another BLS album…but it’s not. It’s Ozzy, but not just another Ozzy record, no, it happens to be a quite amazing piece of work.

Again, the influence of Zakk Wylde on this album is obvious, as displayed in songs such as the opening track “Not Going Away”, to the two ballad like songs that Ozzy and Zakk have conjured up. But, this influence is anything but a bad thing, it is quite possibly an improvement in, in my mind. Ozzy is great, and so is BLS, so the combination of the two really can’t fail, and it doesn’t. This album is fuckin heavy. Just old school Ozzy greatest, mixed with some classic BLS. This formula is brilliant.

Directly upon starting to listen to this album, the listener is treated to, and somewhat surprised by, a fantastic song “Not Going Away”. The reason I say “surprised” is because Ozzy has been out of the game for a while as far as new material goes, and one doesn’t really know what to expect from this album. But upon listening to this song, one will understand the rest of the album; just Ozzy and his mob throwing back to the old days and having fun. That’s what this album is all about; not giving a shit about what anyone thinks, just doin things the Ozzy way.

Basically, this album is a great comeback album. But it really isn’t a comeback, because Ozzy is never gone from the public eye…ever. But it is in fact the first batch of fresh material from Ozzy for just about 7 years, and let’s all be honest, his last few albums have been a huge disappointment of mammoth proportions. But this album is far from a disappointment, it is just flat out great. Every song is thought out and preformed fantastically, not one second of this album is “filler”. Every track has a purpose, whether it be a big “fuck you” to critics, or a patriotic salute to the troops. This album will not disappoint, and it is guaranteed to cause the listener to take a great, big sigh of relief, for Ozzy has returned, and he’s not gonna stop.

Highlights: “Not Going Away”, “I Don’t Wanna Stop”, “The Almighty Dollar”, “Trap Door”