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Some classics, some mediocre afterthoughts. - 80%

hells_unicorn, January 30th, 2007

Ozzy’s success as a solo artist has been well documented in the realm of both radio and music television; that much is certain, but with all the lousy acts that get their 15 minutes of fame on these venues one ought to question everything they herald. Although Ozzy, like his nemesis Ronnie James Dio has been blessed with collaborations with amazing guitarists, the relationship he has with his players is one of co-dependence rather than collaboration.

Rhandy Rhodes was not only Ozzy’s guitarist, he was his personal savior, and the evidence can be seen in this rather musically ambitious yet vocally mediocre collection of songs. As with all metal vocalists, he was nothing without a great band, and after being fired from Black Sabbath he returned to nothing until this album was released. Ozzy’s charm was not in his singing, although his work on “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” and “Sabotage” was inspired, but in his image and stage persona. Unfortunately, stage presence counts for zero in the studio, while words and music count for everything.

One of the blessings that I’ve found in completely detaching myself both from radio and MTV is that great songs being overplayed has had zero affect on me. Classic songs off this album such as “Crazy Train”, “I don’t know”, and “Suicide Solution” rock hard and are loaded with solid guitar riffing and highly climactic solos. “Mr. Crowley” will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most amazing atmospheric and shred driven compositions of the early 80s, despite have a lackluster vocal performance. Even the vocally exposed ballad “Goodbye to Romance” is musically in good order.

Other songs on here are not bad, but tend to be lost in the collection of classic riff monsters. “Dee” is a brief instrumental that no doubt is meant to emulate similar works on previous Sabbath albums. Not bad, probably even more technically oriented than Tony Iommi’s caprices, but it’s a bit out of place here. “Steal Away” has some solid guitar work in it, but lacks any definitive hooks to put it up with the bulk of the stuff on the earlier half of the album. Everything else on here is a combination of what is lacking in both of these songs.

Basically to sum up, this is a good album, but it’s not something that falls into the category of being revolutionary. Rhandy Rhodes is a solid player and an excellent composer, but much of what he does here riff wise harkens back to both Sabbath and other rock/metal acts of the 70s, while his soloing is a more energetic variant on Eddie Van Halen’s model. “Heaven and Hell” and “Mob Rules” were much more revolutionary both musically and lyrically than this was. Fans of the NWOBHM, shred, and traditional metal will like this, although fans of mid-70s era Sabbath will not be impressed with Ozzy’s shrinking high range and inability to get in the center of the pitch he’s trying to sing.