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Zakk Wylde Does Not Fix Everything - 73%

DawnoftheShred, March 23rd, 2007

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.