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Diary of a Guitar Hero. - 90%

hells_unicorn, November 14th, 2007

Not more than one year after Ozzy and newfound idea reservoir Rhandy Rhodes hit the charts with “Blizzard of Ozz”, they offered a follow-up that would prove to be one of the most successful releases of the early 80s. It is evident that a sort of war or wills had erupted between Ozzy and his former band mates in Black Sabbath, and once again he found himself getting quite a bit more notoriety despite the lack of a superior release to up stage the fits of genius pumped out by Ronnie Dio and Tony Iommi.

While Ozzy’s voice obviously has improved little in the time between this album and the last, Rhandy has made some impressive leaps in terms of song writing ambition. His riffs have become much more focused, his solos are still technically impressive but have much more polish, and the pace of every song has been better measured to avoid redundancy. While the other instruments, particularly the keyboards, are used much more ambitiously here the focus is still on Rhandy, the source of strength for Ozzy’s newfound formula.

“Over the Mountain” is another classic up tempo track cut from a similar mold as “I don’t know”, already hinting that there is a clear method to Ozzy’s newfound madness. This one has deserved all the praise it gets, the riffs are powerful and the solo definitely sticks in your memory. “Flying High Again” has a principle riff comparing heavily with AC/DC, although song structure and feel wise it seeks a happy atmosphere similar to what was heard on “Crazy Train”.

“Believer” has plenty of evil sounds produced by both guitar and synthesizer alike, although the atmosphere surrounds another riff driven rocker. “Little Dolls” has an interesting tribal sounding drum intro, although the rest of the song flows a bit similar to the first two tracks, although the bass work is a bit more present and reeks of Geezer Butler influences. “Tonight” is probably the only track on here that doesn’t rock hard enough, sounding almost like a Cinderella Power Ballad with heavy keyboard presence and Ozzy doing the vocals. “You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll” is a bit longer than it needs to be, but thankfully doesn’t fall short in the energy department, despite being another ballad.

“S.A.T.O.” has a weird acoustic guitar and keyboard intro, followed by some good old fashioned metal cut from the earlier glory days of Sabbath, mostly resembling material found on “Sabotage”. Rhandy uses his licks tastefully, yet still takes enough liberties to give it the feel of a live performance, especially when the guitar solo takes over. Our grand highlight of the album, however, proves to be the long and musically ambitious title track. The opening acoustic guitar line is actually a quote from Leo Brouwer’s 6th Etude Simple, one that I personally had a tough time with when at West Chester (the Rhodes quote is a simplified version). The rest of it is a rather interesting set of musical twists and turns that remind heavily of middle 70s era Sabbath, some sections actually almost sounding like quotes of “Supertzar”.

This is, by all standards, a shinning gem and should be heard by all fans of his solo work. If you have one of his greatest hits collections, I still recommend getting this album because chances are you’ve never heard half of the songs on here. Fans of shred guitar oriented metal and Sabbath should also get this release, as it draws heavily from both. Sadly this would be the last chapter in Rhandy Rhodes’ brief tenure as a metal guitarist before his tragic end. People often ask why he is always heralded as a revolutionary; he didn’t do anything that others hadn’t already done before. To this I simply answer, look at the songs he wrote, look at the riffs and solos he penned, they are neither the fastest nor the most insane but they speak to the ears with a truly unique voice, one that was silenced before it had a chance to fully realize it’s potential.