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After the surprising firing of Ozzy's most technically gifted guitar savage Jake E. Lee, Osbourne found another monster axe man in Zakk Wylde. While the group would not reach their full potential until the release of the much better "No More Tears" three years later, "No Rest for the Wicked" acts a reaction to "The Ultimate Sin", by stripping down the pop aspects of that record to create a more straight ahead and rudimentary album. The results were incredibly mixed.
Before any aspect of the songs shine through, the production immediately catches your attention. While his last record with Ron Nevison was incredibly clean, "No Rest for the Wicked" runs the other way with a dirty production that is demo quality. The drums are very compressed, and lack any top-end response. They sound muffled and overtly '80s because of the big compressed sound. The bass guitar is poorly EQ'd and makes the whole mix sound muddy at around 90Hz with little attention to higher frequencies to make the notes sound intelligible. The guitars sound like they were recorded under water, and have a same mid-range frequency deficit. Reportedly, Keith Olsen gave Zakk the same sound that John Sykes used on the self-titled Whitesnake the year before, and it sounds even worse on this album. Overblown and flat, it's the worst guitar tone on an Ozzy record to date. The vocals themselves are doubled and soaked in reverb with Osbourne sounding very tired and indifferent to the second rate material on the album. Keith Olsen seems to hate all frequencies above 10kHz, because the album sounds like you're listening with a thick blanket thrown over your speakers.
While the crappy production definitely takes away from the songs, it doesn't completely ruin them. Wylde's guitar work is stellar, if not as good as he would later become. His pinch harmonics are not completely out of control yet, and with the help of Bob Daisly he crafts some decent tunes. Wylde is a great player, but out of the first three studio guitarists Ozzy had, he is easily the least talented writer. The best album of the era contains several co-writes from Lemmy Kilmister. On other albums he was completely not allowed to write at all, and he was fired after Ozzy thought that everything sounded too much like Black Label Society. His first two albums are aided by his talented band mates Bob Daisley and Randy Castillo. Highlights include the single "Miracle Man", the dumb but lovable "Crazy Babies", and the only track on the album that is good enough to stand against old Ozzy material "Bloodbath in Paradise".
The problem with this album is that in attempting to backlash the big sounding and technically worked out "Ultimate Sin" album, the band went too far the other direction and came off sounding primitive. For the most part, this album is more hard rock than it is metal. While that itself isn't necessarily a bad thing, the fact that the riffs themselves sound standard and rehashed highlights the fact that the band is regressing, not evolving. "Fire in the Sky" rings hollow when compared to such classic ballads as "Goodbye to Romance" and "Killer of Giants". Mid-paced rebellious songs like "Breaking the Rules" pale in the shadow so tunes like "Flying High Again" and "Waiting for Darkness" or even future triumphs like "I Don't Wanna Change the World".
In an attempt to strip down the Ozzy Obsourne band takes one step forward and ten steps back. While it is admirable that they attempted to branch out into a new direction, the abysmal production and mediocre songwriting keep the overall album from being particularly enjoyable. They would later succeed by courting to AOR radio a bit with their next much more evolved (and better) effort, "No More Tears".
Ozzy Osbourne's mental development stalled somewhere between the ages of 10 and 13, though he has a predisposition towards the most adult things on Earth. I'm not exactly sure how he's still alive (nor is Ozzy), but he likes his drugs and his nudity and his big crosses and that's very clear on pretty much every one of his songs. He sings about things he's comfortable with - mostly religion, excess, love, and something incredibly vague about war or politics - and that's it, don't ask for anything else. His music tends not to be too complex and doesn't require a depthy investigation to extract the hidden meaning, but focuses on the things that a pre-teen would find cool. Remember, this is the man who used to take his pet shoe for walks just before he joined Black Sabbath and helped invent heavy metal.
The good thing about the simplicity of an Ozzy album is that there is always something to like. There are usually at least two or three really catchy, energetic songs and 'No Rest for the Wicked' is no exception to the rule. There have been - more often on the post-80s Ozzy albums - a couple of absolute turds as well. On this front, 'No Rest' pleasingly fails to deliver. 'Fire in the Sky' is a little tedious and 'Crazy Babies' is certainly questionable, but nothing is an outright failure. The nonsensical lyrics of the latter is probably a concession to Ozzy's permanently childlike state and it's better to let him have his way sometimes than induce a tantrum that would probably involve a few kilograms of cocaine.
Err, also...Zakk Wylde is here. I'm not the biggest Randy Rhoads fan in the world, but I understand that Ozzy had something special before he died and some of the neoclassical innovation went out the window with his passing. Wylde has a style that's technically exciting and loads every song with a thousand pinches and harmonics and squiggly bits that I don't know all the names of, but that's exactly what the 12 year olds are hankering for, so it's a big success in that sense. Nothing is laboured or agonized over, there's a lot of colour and variety in the soloing, and everything is sort of cool, even if it won't change your life. I really love the slower, mean main riff of 'Breakin' All the Rules' and the hurried change-around licks on 'Devil's Daughter (Holy War)': they give a little bit of flair and bad-assery to an otherwise slightly safe sound.
Ozzy himself isn't on great form, but he does alright, shining through on the upbeat 'Tattooed Dancer' - particularly the "My soul's on fire!" line that follows the chorus - and the lyrics to 'Bloodbath in Paradise' are delivered surprisingly well, with both atmosphere and power. I'm a little nonplussed by 'Miracle Man' lyrically, nor do I understand why it was chosen as a single, because there are three or four songs that I prefer over it, including the sometimes-a-bonus-track-sometimes-not 'Hero' that moves slowly for a couple of reflective minutes before spiralling off on a great instrumental part. I haven't payed much attention to the rhythm section since I bought this album: the drums have a floppy, loose tone that is too close to 80s arena rock for this faster-paced sound, while the bass doesn't turn up anything much worth listening to.
There's a special kind of mediocrity that sounds like success and I think Ozzy has just about nailed it on 'No Rest for the Wicked'. Not much is challenging or truly innovative, but the songs are catchy and upbeat, so you'll keep playing them for a while, though not forever. Maybe this would be a pop album if there wasn't a wailing guitar on every song and a distinctive, unusual voice to mark it out as something different. My favourites are 'Breakin' All the Rules' and 'Bloodbath in Paradise', but Ozzy has a higher than average number of strong songs on this album.
Ozzy’s metal credentials are fairly well cemented in history, but most of his solo work has been a fairly even split of rock and metal sounds. “No Rest for the Wicked” is where the metal influences start to taper off a bit and the rock sounds start to dominate the mix. The ironic thing is that the addition of Zakk Wylde has brought in a much heavier guitar sound than what was heard on previous efforts, but in spite of this, the songwriting has drifted away from the minor key characters and open lyrical subjects into a rigid mix of pentatonic rock/blues influences and Motley Crue sounding lyrics.
In short, Ozzy traded in the pure and perfect cheese of “The Ultimate Sin” to the mix of cheese and sleaze that can characterize Ozzy’s late 80s sound. I see it as the beginning of Ozzy’s gradual decline; which doesn’t necessarily mean that this album or the one after it is bad, but that the changes that were brought in at this point would eventually lead to the mush that was heard on “Ozzmosis” and what came after. It is not immediately obvious, but the over-simplified riffs that give arena anthems like “Crazy Babies” and “Hero” their catchy appeal are a step away from the guitar majesty of Rhoades and Lee towards the eventual groove metal plunge of “Down to Earth”.
This does not mean that what is on this album is lackluster or bad, most of the material on here is quite solid. People who really like songs such as “Perry Mason” and “No more tears” are encouraged to check out “Fire in the Sky” on here, which I would argue is an earlier prototype of Ozzy’s strongest aspect of his 90s sound. Likewise, “Breaking all the rules” and “Tattooed Dancer” has some really impressive riff work and an inspired vocal performance by the ugliest voice in heavy metal. “Bloodbath in Paradise” has a wicked early Sabbath opening doom riff that follows some creepy horror movie sounding keyboard work.
Most of the rest of the material on here is arena oriented rock influenced material, although quite riff happy when compared to most of the garbage today that is passed off as arena rock. Rock music in general, both mainstream and obscure, was of a much higher grade in the late 80s than it was in the immediate years that followed. As such, catchy yet cliché anthems like “Miracle Man” and “Devil’s Daughter” were par for the course circa 1988, although praise should be given to Zakk Wylde for throwing in plenty of above average leads.
As a whole, “No Rest for the Wicked” is a mixture of great music and passably good music. It doesn’t tear it up from start to finish the way its predecessor did, but sort of goes through fits and starts of greatness and then dies down before coming back up again. It makes for an enjoyable though somewhat inconsistent listen, which flies in the face of the conventional wisdom that this is Ozzy’s greatest album since Randy Rhodes, let alone the less conventional view that this is Ozzy’s best album overall, even though it did sell extremely well. I’d recommend getting this after the 2 Randy Rhodes releases and “The Ultimate Sin”, the latter of which is an extremely underrated album.
That’s right. Most of the songs on ‘No Rest For The Wicked’ are really catchy. This is the albums most important strongpoint. Second strongpoint is Zakk Wylde’s sound which is sleazy just like Jake Lee before him but also heavy, resulting in the (productionally speaking) heaviest album so far.
The album immediately starts off with three of the best songs. ‘Miracle Man’ and ‘Crazy Babies’ are both catchy as well as heavy. Good riffs and excellent vocal lines. ‘Devil’s Daughter’ has a very strong chorus and the same goes for ‘Bloodbath In Paradise’.
Even the lesser classic songs on the album have plenty to offer such as excellent riffs (‘Tattooed Dancer’), or interesting dynamics and diversity (‘Fire In The Sky’), I must stress I have this album on vinyl so I do not know nor can I judge the song ‘Hero’.
I have always found the contradiction on ‘No Rest for the Wicked ’ intriguing. It was his sleaziest album in the eighties but also the most heavy. This is really a compliment to both Zakk Wylde and the producing duo Keith Olsen and Roy Thomas Baker. Also Ozzy’s vocal performance on this album is remarkably good. Add to this a very good album cover which suits the atmosphere of the album. For some reason the brownish sepia colours match Wylde’s guitar sound (does that make sense? For me it does). On this album everything falls perfectly together.
After the vigorous and grandiose Ultimate Sin, which saw Ozzy dabbling into the metal that was most profitable at the time, this was a return to the form for Ozzy. The only problem was not the newly acquired guitarist but because five of the eight songs here, nine on some versions, are totally mundane and insipid. No Ozzy album is totally forgettable, except for Ozzmosis and on, and there are some classic songs here, it just does not flow as well as the four previous albums do.
Perhaps it would only be fair to separate the good and bad tracks, with the bad being talked about first.
Miracle Man starts the album off in such the wrong way, it's NOT a bad song, wait, yes it is. The riff is decent but after hearing it four times before the drums even begin, you know it’s going to be played 78943197831497845 times by songs end. Then to make matters worse Ozzy starts doing something with the vocals, and I say ‘something’ cause you can NOT call what he is doing as singing. His voice is as grating as it ever has been. It sums up the bad songs in every way, there is absolutely nothing original about this song, not just in terms of Ozzy but everyone else. The only redeeming thing about this song is the title of it being sung through a voice box in the second verse, but is so overused and abused in the rather lame chorus. The review for this song is just like the song itself, thanking god it moved on.
Devil's Daughter carries on in the same tradition, lame and full of ideas that are already used, not only by Ozzy but by everyone else as well. Crazy Babies is perhaps the worse song on the album, with its signature main riff never leaving. Almost every second of this song sounds the same and Ozzy's vocals by this point are so predictable it is insulting. Not even the solos in these two songs can save them from the depths of sheer mediocrity, mainly because they are all just rip-offs of others. Plus the video for Crazy Babies has got to be one of the most redundant videos in the history of music, no matter the genre. Even Limp Bizkit had better videos than this, and we all know how badly that band sucks.
Demon Alcohol is a mid pace burner that is ruined by the opening riff, full of squeals and over-indulgent lyrics. But the pre-chorus is a good section only to be ruined by the chorus with the redundant "I'll get you" to end it all.
Breaking All the Rules is where things start getting good, despite the one-dimensional riff and A-typical lyrics that are ridiculous the song is one of the better ones. The lead break after the first verse is one of Zakk's few original moments and the way Ozzy sings is not as bad as the previous songs. Overall the song is catchy and manages to hold on just enough by not overstaying it’s welcome, though it does scrape on the tip of it very often.
Bloodbath in Paradise is another highlight here, with its spooky intro and chilling guitar leads. It erupts into a fun upbeat number very reminiscent of Secret Loser from the Ultimate Sin, just not as good. The tale of Charles Manson also gives this a very sinister feel that is one of the few brilliant moments here.
Fire in the Sky was the obligatory ballad but this time Ozzy makes it work, by sticking with the elements that made Killer of Giants such a tremendous song. Heavy riffs that calm down to a keyboard-synth during the verse that depict the lifestyle of Ozzy, both as a kid and an adult. This is also one of the very few times throughout Ozzy's career that he sounds convincing not only in a ballad but when he is telling his life-story. The only downfall to the song is the chorus is repeated for the last minute of the song after the phenomenal lead break section.
Tattooed Dancer is the best song on the album, with its thrashy riffs and drums, which even comprises the intro. This song is a demented speed metal number that totally wipes the floor with every song on the album as well as every song since. Never again will Ozzy be this raw and at this speed. The lyrics are also totally perverted, even sometimes being blatantly obvious with such examples as "Well I can hear her moaning like a dog that's in heat" and "Dance for me bitch". The solo in this song is also another one of the few things that totally work and is of Zakk's ideas, even though you can clearly hear(like all other 1980's Metal guitarists) a touch of Rik Emmett of Triumph fame in its approach. The song is fun and energetic, perhaps only bested by the live performance on Just Say Ozzy.
With all that said, if it weren't for the four straight songs in the middle, I'd give this album a rating of about 3. Cut off tracks four through seven, slap those on an EP and this would be like a 66. Do yourself a huge favor and obtain just those four tracks and maybe, just maybe Devil's Daughter but avoid the rest.
It seems to be a universal opinion that Zakk Wylde can make anything better. I’m not here to dispute his skill. I couldn’t dare to question his talent. I’ve seen him perform live with Ozzy and I’ve seen him play with Black Label Society and the bastard shreds mightily. But what I can dispute is his seemingly superhuman ability to improve everything that he has a hand in. Case in point: No Rest for the Wicked.
People seem to regard this as one of the finer records in Ozzy’s career, usually citing the addition of Wylde to the band’s lineup as one of the primary reasons. First let me admit that his presence here is certainly welcome and that this album’s fans are not wrong in that regards. The riff work is quality, combining catchiness and heaviness with a fucking cool tone and his solos are fantastic. But his performance here doesn’t warrant the labeling of Jake E. Lee as “that other guy” in between Zakk and Randy. The same guy that wrote “Bark at the Moon” (which is better than any song on here) is so quickly overshadowed by Zakk’s solid, but far from legendary performance on this album. That pisses me off. That and the fact that though the song structures are still virtually identical to what was presented on The Ultimate Sin, this album gets far more praise in the Ozzy fan base.
But enough semantics, on to the music. This is your typical Osbourne fan fodder, touched up with some sparkling lead work and occasional moments of glory. Most of the songs just reek of mediocrity and pedestrian 80‘s metal. Though all the cheesy 80’s synth work is gone (there’s still synth work, but it comes off as effective and reserved rather than lame, like the sweet choir thing during the “Demon Alcohol“ chorus), a lot of the songs are somewhat standard. “Devil’s Daughter,” “Crazy Babies,” and “Tattooed Dancer” are good examples, set apart only by Ozzy’s vocal melodies and a few memorable riffs. Speaking of Ozzy, his voice sounds pretty good on this album. Not Black Sabbath-era good, but a step or two above his usual solo-era vocals. But regardless, much of this fails to impress.
So why bother with this album at all? Because when the album does finally step up to the plate, it owns. “Breaking All the Rules” is the first in a string of killer tunes that make this not just worthwhile, but quite awesome. Some of the best riffs around played under a great Ozzy vocal melody. Then comes the delightfully creepy “Bloodbath in Paradise.“ Check out that fucking intro. Sinister stuff, plus it goes on to be quite a catchy tune. However, the highlight of No Rest for the Wicked is definitely the powerful “Fire in the Sky.” From the awesome synth intro, through the phenomenal guitar work, and until the final fade out this song is one of Ozzy’s most atmospheric and brilliant numbers, almost worth the price of the album alone. After these three, maybe “Demon Alcohol” rules similarly, but the rest of the album just doesn’t live up to those classics.
I know I’ve ripped on this one a bit, but this actually is a good album. Wylde and Ozzy both do a solid job and there are no songs that are unlistenable. Just don’t expect this to be the best thing since sliced bread. The albums Randy Rhoads played on still kick this one’s ass and so does a lot of the Jake E. Lee material, making this duly nonessential. But if you’re an Ozzy fan, it won’t do you no harm.
People seem to think that 1986 was when metal reached its peak, but I have to disagree. 1988, is what I like to call, "The year of the Iron Fucking Hammer." Never once did all of metal's greatest bands sound heavier, nor were they pushing the envolope further as a unit. You had Slayer and Megadeth pushing the boundaries of thrash with their respective releases, South Of Heaven and So Far So Good So What. Then you had Maiden and Priest which were contributing more to the almost-finished blue prints of power metal with their respective albums, 7th son of a 7th son and Ram It Down, not to mention Dio's 1987 release Dream Evil.
Ozzy was no exception in terms of excellence during this year. After 3 albums of wandering through the desert on acid, heroin, speed, and every other drug in the universe, Ozzy, along with drummer Randy Castillo (R.I.P.), long time bassist-cum-whinylittlebitch Bob Daisley, and hired gun Zakk Wylde, create an album that even the angry-young-men detractors will find themselves headbanging to. It's not the be-all end all of 1988, but enough to torture a Linkin Park fan for a solid 40-50 minutes.
Let's start with Ozzy's voice. It shows age, but it takes a close listen to figure that out. That's because in between the sessions of herionshootingmarijuanasmokingcocainerectalinjecting etc. etc, Ozzy managed to figure out how to use his voice in the begin of its decay to haunting and menacing effect. It would continue to sound this way until he "retired" through good songs and bad.
Ozzy has released albums so him and his fans could have a rock and roll riot, no more and no less. None have rocked as hard as this. But through scientific mishap, this album is more than a rock and roll riot. Its a mixed bag of traditon, power, speed and thrash! Ozzy, thrash? As the two reviews below me would reveal, the arrival of Zakk Wylde may have something to do with this. Being a total Randy Rhoads obsessive, is it really that surprising that the influence of Randy Rhoads and Black Sabbath on Zakk may have been the chemical formula for the next logical successor to Blizzard Of Ozz and Randy Rhoads himself?
Well, is it?
Highlights: Devil's Daughter is pure fucking evil. Does anyone else get the creeps with the midsction right before Zakk's solo? You know the one that sounds like a live animal crying as its being slaughtered? And as for the solo itself listen inparticular at the 3:40 mark and tell me you are not amazed. Demon Alcohol is an aboslute mosher, and that chorus while kinda mediocre uses other effects to send chills up spines, and Zakk uses more lethal lead work that both Dave Mustaine and Glenn Tipton would be proud of. The same goes with Bloodbath In paradise and Tattooed Dancer. These 4 songs are probably the most violent songs in Ozzy's solo catalogue that Ozzy has done vocals on.
Fire In The Sky is the most ironic song on here, as it would not sound out of place on a Dream Evil, Last In Line, or even a Holy Diver, with Dio on vocals of course. Probably a thank you message from Ozzy to Dio for writing King Of Rock And Roll.
The rest: Miracle Man, another thrashy song is the contribution to the "KILL ALL EVANGILISTS" conspiracy that every metal band participated in during the late 80's/early 90's. Hell, this was probably the song that started that whole sphiel, as according to popular Ozzy lore, Swaggart hated Ozzy the most, so it seems logical for ol Johnny Micheal to draw first blood. Say thank you everyone.
Crazy Babies is AC/DC on crack. Literally. Its what AC/DC would sound like if they decided to sing songs about drugs. And the solo sounds like it was done by a coked up Angus Young. Listen and draw your own conclusion on whether that's a good or bad thing.
Finally we have Breaking All The Rules and Hero, the latter being the weakest track on here. I think Ozzy and crew made this a hidden track for a reason: they were ordered by record companies to make more music and they were hoping you wouldn't find it.
Breaking All The Rules is the most introspective and melodic of the songs on here. Ozzy might not have been much of a singer, but he has that Steve Harris mindset of once he finds a proper melody he can't seem to let go of it for a whole song. Nobody truly thinks the way he does.
I've spent way too much time on this review. I'm going to get something to eat. What's that? Should you get this? Yes. This album, along with Blizzard, are the solo Ozzy albums you must own, especially if you call yourself a guitar player. It shows Ozzy Osbourne at his finest hour, and is the chaotic debut of one Jeffery Wielandt.
This album is Ozzy's one moment of greatness. After all these years of average heavy metal, this is what he was capable of. Who the hell could've guessed?
This album features one of the greatest guitarists of all time on his first album in Ozzy Osbourne. Zakk Wylde enters the band, and suddenly they put out a masterpiece. Coincidence? I think not.
The songwriting on Ozzy's earlier albums has been decent but somehow it has always felt a little held back; the songs felt too slow and uninspired. On this album, all the energy that was held back is unleashed, creating a raging heavy metal monster with faster, heavier and better shit than Ozzy has ever done and will ever do. What really makes this level so incredibly great is, of course, the guitar wizardry of Zakk Wylde. His riffs are often single-note based, but very varied and you never know what's coming next. And that trademark squeal of his is totally menacing. He tears through every song with awesome, fast paced riffwork (Hell, the song Tattooed Dancer is total fucking speed metal!) and blast out mindblowing guitar solos everywhere. His style is instantly recognizable, catchy as fuck, and works totally well with the rest of the stuff on this album.
Because Zakk Wylde is not the only one who's kicking major ass on No Rest For The Wicked. Randy Castillo lays down some really cool, memorable drum work and Bob Daisley's basslines are very well written and executed. But the big surprise here is Ozzy, who actually sounds really fucking good for once!
He no longer sounds whiny, over emotional and generally pathetic- he has gained tons of attitude, and sounds way more powerful and pretty damn evil at times (Bloodbath in Paradise!). The lyrics are also way cooler than before, dealing with darker yet less serious and personal themes, which gives a more inspired and imaginative feeling overall.
So, No Rest For The Wicked is the album where it all came together for Ozzy and the boys. The songwriting is top-notch, the vocals finally work and Zakk Wylde enters the band. Under these circumstances, the band put out a 9-track album filled with classics. Come to think of it, my top five Ozzy songs can all be found on here.
There are two songs though, that stand out as slightly weaker than the rest but at the same time way stronger than 90% of Ozzy's back catalogue. Those two being the ballads, Fire in the Sky and Hero. The former is one of his best ballads, but just not up to bar. The latter is also very solid, but never really gets anywhere. Aside from these two, this is just pure fucking ownage from beginning to end.
Miracle Man gets things started with that immortal opening riff and Ozzy's classic evil laughter, and from there on you are to be taken on one incredibly catchy ride of true heavy metal. Devil's Daughter is somewhat slower and more melodic, with that sinister dark-yet-upbeat feeling that many Ozzy songs contain here perfected. Crazy Babies is just insanely catchy, with that intense sense of groove to the guitars. Tattooed Dancer is the fastest fucking Ozzy song ever, and one of the best. "Tattooed Dancer!... Dance for me, bitch!". Demon Alcohol is dark, catchy, evil and totally badass. And of course, we have the greatest Ozzy song of all time, namely Bloodbath in Paradise. The atmosphere is so damn sinister, and the riffwork is awesome, especially with that speed metal breakdown towards the end of every vers ("The California rain is turning red"). The chorus is evil as hell, and the solo is fucking nuts. If Ozzy ever made a masterpiece, this is it.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the be-all end-all album of Ozzy Osbourne. He totally unleashes the power and energy that he possesses, and turns it into a furious heavy metal beast. You desperately need this.