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It’s hard to reconcile the praise that some gave to this rather grotesque album with what one actually hears when it starts playing. Such euphemisms as modern and industrial often get thrown around when discussing “Down to Earth”, combined with the assertion that Ozzy is showing us his human side, reflecting the album’s title. In retrospect, this was the logical first step to the reality show craze that followed shortly after, or more likely the effect of the corrupting influence that reality TV and reality style rock lyrics have had upon the hapless Ozzman. Regardless, the music speaks for itself.
“Down to Earth” is, from start to finish, a groove metal album of the lowest order with the occasional ballad homage to John Lennon. It stands in stark contrast to what metal and Ozzy were all about in the beginning, defying the conventional wisdom, playing music that was innovative and entertaining, and either distorting or outright escaping reality. Although Ozzy’s lyrics have always tended towards the mundane and self-descriptive, they were never quite the drab, dry and arduous auto-biographical prose penned on here.
Musically we get a mishmash of Godsmack, Creed, Marilyn Manson and the Beatles, a veritable stew of musical incoherence to fit the mainstream of 2001. The only thing metal is Zakk Wylde’s solos, which are the equivalent of pouring a mixture of perfume and mascara onto a dung drenched pig. He does his best to liven up a set of garbage minimalist grooves to give the appearance of a riff being present, but to no avail. Ozzy’s vocals are lousy, especially when he goes anywhere above his middle range, but this is hardly unexpected at this juncture in his career.
The album kicks off with the abominable “Gets Me Through”, an opening hymn at Ozzy’s new church of the anti-metal superstar. It’s hypnotic, it grooves, then it’s hypnotic again, then it grooves with a solo over it for a while and then it all starts over again. Other slightly less redundant groove floggers include “Junkie” and “Facing Hell”, complete with the muddy down-tuned goodness one expects from a night on the toilet. Ozzy shows his sensitive side with a charming little unoriginal piano ballad in “Dreamer”, it’s like “Imagine”, but it focuses on the person rather than the act; hooray, at least there is something original on this song besides the guitar solo.
Amongst the rubbish that populates the remainder of this troubled release is “Running out of time”, probably the only song on here that doesn’t completely suck. It’s got a little bit of a Creed aura to it, especially during the chorus, but it’s catchy and inoffensive. “Can you hear them?” is a Godsmack homage with a military drum sound; it could have been on the soundtrack for The Scorpion King alongside “I Stand Alone”. It highlights some of the better groove moments and occasionally throws in some guitar screams, but I don’t buy Ozzy albums to hear Godsmack, it defeats the purpose.
Surprisingly, Ozzy managed to release an album that was even worse than “Ozzmosis”, as impossible as it may sound to those of you who gave up on him after hearing that album. Fans of this who were born before 1987 can only be described as Ozzy cultists, unquestioning adherents to a fallen star who has released the most anti-metal hunk of garbage I’ve heard since Creed’s “Human Clay”. It is the pinnacle of the horror that is the marriage of groove and modern rock. It is the church of groove. It is the groover, the groove, and the holy groove-it of groove. Don’t buy this unless you have a masochistic desire to experience the musical version of Chinese water torture.