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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.