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It's Symbolic, Of Course... - 95%

Twisted_Psychology, May 11th, 2010

With Ozzy often finding himself these days in the same "fallen from grace" position as his peers in bands like Metallica and Queensryche, I always hope that future generations will remember the man's earliest studio albums as some of his greatest achievements. Released in 1980, this particular album proved that Ozzy could find success away from Black Sabbath and also introduced the mainstream world to the late guitarist Randy Rhoads following two unnoticed albums with Quiet Riot.

Even though this album was released as a singer's solo debut, it is pretty safe to say that everything on here is all about the guitar playing. Rhoads truly steals the show on this album as well as on the following "Diary Of A Madman" and manages to be both intense and versatile throughout. Of course, Ozzy himself puts on a decent performance and carries the hooks well in spite of being put on the spot more than he ever was in Sabbath. The rhythm section is also enjoyable though it doesn't get to stand out as much as could...

Musically, you could say that this album serves as an extension of the sound that previously appeared on Sabbath's first four albums. The songs are generally driven by the guitar in a way that resembles "Master of Reality" and the atmosphere is overwhelmingly dark when compared to some of Ozzy's later solo efforts. The extensive theatrics on this album also seem to expand on those that were merely hinted at on works such as "Sabotage" and "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath." However, the songs rarely go into the slower tempos of the singer's alma mater and instead go towards fast, upbeat tempos that were hardly ever explored in those days.

The songs reflect this diversity of influences well and go into many different styles through the nine-song duration. You've got some dark metal tracks ("I Don't Know," "Suicide Solution," "Mr. Crowley"), upbeat anthems ("Crazy Train," "No Bone Movies," "Steal Away (The Night)"), a few more melodic moments ("Goodbye to Romance," "Dee"), and an amazing hybrid in the form of "Revelation (Mother Earth)." The lattermost track is definitely my favorite of the lot with its apocalyptic imagery and excellent guitar work though you can't deny the fun that still manages to come along with "Crazy Train" in spite of it being so overplayed recently...

Predominately written by bassist Bob Daisley, the lyrics on this album are also noteworthy and may some of the most sophisticated ever associated with the Ozz. A variety of topics are presented and generally include society ("Crazy Train," "Revelation (Mother Earth)"), addiction ("Suicide Solution," "No Bone Movies"), personal struggles ("I Don't Know," "Goodbye to Romance"), a bit of occultism ("Mr. Crowley"), and good ol' fashioned debauchery for good measure in "Steal Away (The Night)."

Of course, this album does have its flaws. While "No Bone Movies" and "Steal Away" are pretty fun rockers, they do go into borderline filler territory and "Mr. Crowley" does feature some awkward verses that are fortunately made up for by the powerful instrumental segments. And in a way similar to AC/DC's Brian Johnson, Ozzy's vocals may also be a little weak in comparison to the instrumental prowess but this is easy to overlook when you consider how used to his voice you probably are due to his recent saturation...

All in all, this album is an essential listen for metal fans of all kinds as well as for anyone that calls themselves a fan of the guitar. While the album's successes do make me wonder why the reviews for it here on the Archives are so mixed, the flaws do help me see how some don't like it. Oh well, I suppose every metalhead has an Ozzy phase at some point...

My Current Favorites:
"I Don't Know," "Crazy Train," "Goodbye to Romance," "Suicide Solution," and "Revelation (Mother Earth)"