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Of Cheese and Sleaze. - 80%

hells_unicorn, March 5th, 2008

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.