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Ozzy Osbourne > The Ultimate Sin > Reviews
Ozzy Osbourne - The Ultimate Sin

Won't You Listen 'Cos I’m At It Again - 98%

CHAIRTHROWER, June 10th, 2024
Written based on this version: 1986, 12" vinyl, Epic Records

As with many, I was put off for ages by Ozzy's fourth full-length studio album, 1986's The Ultimate Sin, also Jake's second performance with the Birmingham boogeyman. Lots had to do with its foolishly disquieting, over-the-top cover art, alongside fact I couldn't get past Mister Osbourne's hokey, ten gallon hatted MTV performance on otherwise classic title track. However, I've some kick-ass news today, as lo and behold, the commercially elevated nine tracker rules as his most solid and even keeled release out of a storied, decades old career which crazily predates my own parents' 1972 marriage. Like a belated but faithful marionette following his Pied Piper, I'm here to vaunt its exquisitely riffed and sung merits not to mention highly retro flair, once hailed by a certain infernal equine almost seventeen years ago.

As sure as I'm called Chairthrower, this intensely nostalgic record sounds better with each listen, including now, beginning with "The Ultimate Sin'" proper, which behaves exactly as an opener should - that is, establish a firm yet not overshadowing base for upcoming cuts to shine instead of stealing the spotlight outright, as done by incomparably killer "Bark At The Moon", or to an extent, Diary's dual combo of "Over The Mountain" and "Flying High Again" (track names which go together like Ernie and Bert). Okay, its solo is a bit basic and undeveloped but this titular winner delivers just the right amount of anthemic feel goodness to stir the listener into a fanatic whirlwind of hot footed anticipation...for the amazing "Secret Loser", Jake's answer to Randy's "I Don't Know" and possibly my favourite this time thanks to its flashily melodic riffs, alongside textbook mesmeric Ozzy crooning. He's at the top of his game throughout, delivering performances of a lifetime without missing a beat. The token ballad, "Killer Of Giants", shines in a way which makes "Goodbye To Romance" and "Tonight" happily fade in the distance.

Back to "Secret Loser", Jake's sage use of twinkling pinch harmonics radiates from this impeccable tune (which compels to finally watch The Wraith, starring Charlie Sheen). As much as I enjoy rocking its cool main riff at home on the guitar, humbly sit out its wildly technical, if not intimidating, finger tapped lead. As stated, The Ultimate Sin doesn't waver up, down and around like past efforts do, as further top tier fare is found in "Never Say Why" and "Thank God For The Bomb". Both are vastly different from one another in tone and guitar mastery, with former's ominous "FX" style intro leading into golden age mid-pace stomping which never gets old. Its cold and penetrating solo is a highlight too while latter outlier breaks out of the box thanks to its Van Halen sounding zeal and crunch, reminiscent of "Runnin' With The Devil". Worth noting, Ozzy's sinister eloquence during the bridge verse before the solo instills Sabotage style déjà vu - definitely a great thing. For its part, the hooking riffs to "Never" remind me of Zakk Wylde's singular, squeal heavy approach (soon celebrated on 1988's fetching No Rest For The Wicked).

Shout-outs are due for bassist Phil Soussan and sadly departed sticksman Randy Castillo, who deserve their place within Ozzy's hallowed pantheon of talented staff, which goes beyond his truffle pig snout for supremely talented axe men. On this fond note, "Lightning Strikes" combines a tough-as-old-boots-leather - and squealing - main riff with a comically quirky, gang yelled refrain ahead of tastefully zinging bridge and sky-high, arena electrifying solo. As stated, "Killer Of Giants" does a wicked job of portraying that foregone era's general fear of nuclear war and mutually assured destruction, whilst the sparkly, Santana-like intro to "Fool Like You" showcases some of Ozzy's best vocals, bar none. Lastly, despite suggestive title, I can't enough of ephemeral, childhood transporting "Shot In The Dark".

The rhythm section commendably buoys this night cruising, eternal radio friendly gem, which floors our sonic time machine back to time of brightly-coloured tennis shoes and denim jackets while appointing perfect, sylphlike close to Ozzy's illustrious The Ultimate Sin, with its transcending synths and, most memorable, Jake's incredibly colourful and nuanced lead explosion. If you're still virginal to this essential heavy metal/rock landmark, delay no more and dig it already!

Transition - 71%

gasmask_colostomy, July 24th, 2018

It has been impossible for me to really get into The Ultimate Sin despite listening to it several times over a four year period, which is why it’s the last “classic Ozzy” album for me to review. However, it certainly isn’t a poor showing (considering that I was a bit harsh on Diary of a Madman, that’s quite an admission), but there’s just no connection between me and the nine decent songs on the album. Maybe my indifference comes as a result of the fact that – for once – all of the songs are actually pretty even, which is a feature that no other Ozzy album has ever exhibited, meaning that I tend to drift through these 41 minutes without bumping my head or stubbing my toe on an awkward ballad or ham-fisted rocker.

I might put it down to the production, which is described by Morbert below as too soft and rockish, as was the tendency of hair metal bands around the same time, bringing little kick out of the drums or venom from the guitars. The vocals dominate for the most part and I can remember choruses without much trouble, though Ozzy isn’t firing on all cylinders either, just sort of staying undercover with an accurate but not exactly passionate delivery. Take, for example, the supposedly emotional chorus of ‘Shot in the Dark’: the vocals are in line with the nagging hooks of the guitar yet I don’t feel like anyone is driving into the song with passion, Osbourne’s voice sort of sighing out average lines at a modest pitch and intensity. Even the solos of Jake E. Lee refuse to shred wildly at any moment, playing a slightly more tasteful version of what Mick Mars would have done on any concomitant Motley Crue song. Much of this moderation is down to the production, though the performances are also suggestive of the same kind of mentality.

What we do get, I guess, is a bunch of catchy tunes that do much less to experiment than any of the earlier Ozzy albums, pushing the envelope approximately nowhere while bulging it out sufficiently in the pants department to get the idea that this is cock rock. That's not because of the lyrical subjects (saying "I'm a secret loser" and "We're all going to be okay because of mutually assured destruction" - that last a paraphrase - isn't exactly glam) but the strut of the guitars and the relative simplicity of the drums assures a smooth ride made interesting with the minimum dose of attitude. There are a few more obvious themes, such as the "Rockin' all night, rockin' all night" of 'Lightning Strikes' and the chanting of "We rock" on 'Never Know Why', which puzzles me due to those phrases being juxtaposed in the line "You'll never know why we rock," when it was seemingly obvious. (I thought it was because Sharon told him to?) Naturally, these are not blinding highlights but that doesn't prevent them from being regular doses of hard rock spirit.

As such, this could easily be called Ozzy's transition album. The process of mainstream dilution had been present in his career ever since Black Sabbath wrote their second song and stopped being weird, though this album and especially No More Tears, which came five years later, saw his music turn more towards commercial rock standards, whereas the first two solo albums were much more experimental by contrast. If you would prefer to hear Ozzy being catchy and fairly unobjectionable instead of erratic and occasionally inspiring, I'd say this is exactly the album for you. For me, it's just sort of alright.

Sailing the Seas of Cheese - 70%

swancide, August 17th, 2012

Universally depicted as Ozzy Osbourne's weakest effort, 1986'sUltimate Sin saw the Madman descending into Hair Metal mediocrity. But above the broad surface, dim lights of provocative lyrics and some unusual sonic concoctions rear their head. The album is no success, but hardly a complete failure - it falls in-between the desperate post-Randy Rhoads career cry (Bark at the Moon) and the lasting hope that was the arrival of Zakk Wylde (No Rest for the Wicked).

In the title track Ozzy sounds autopilot over the sleazy pump (Randy Castillo's drumming). Washes of ragged riffs (Jake E. Lee) never transcend pragmatic intents, whereas bass remains one with the mood (Philip Soussan). This hazy Ozzy is accessible - rolling unafraid in its compressed punch until keyboards (Mike Moran) bring rushed melodies to their quarter. Ultimate Sin's trembling sketches unfold.

P!ssing at frogs, Ozzy follows with Secret Loser - 1980s' Hair Metal. Barking madly just slightly under the Paranoid mark, a lesson in rapid reactions through Lee's forceful spirals disguises calculations. Chorus prepares listeners for Shot in the Dark's unabashed pyrotechnical feast. Disappointing bridge screams for Zakk Wylde, generic solo, Castillo bleeds with plodding Soussan; readymade Ozzy exploits his madman persona.

Ozzy provides a lively lyrical clarion call for Rock in Never Know Why. His critics will sidestep the provocation, conveyed in slow motion Van Halen turgidity. Ozzy's liquor-fueled voice vanishes from sight kitchen-sink by chainsaw guitars. The snail's paced band reaffirms - in AC/DC's painful Rock N‘Roll Ain't Noise Pollution mode - a non-conformist standpoint. If only we could stand up ‘til the end...

"If we're offensive and pose a threat
You fear what we represent is a mess
You've missed the message that says it all
And you'll never know why
Oh no, you'll never know why
We rock"

Tongue-in-cheek Ozzy provides brilliant Cold War deterrence, as well as enjoying the opportunity to throw some darts at the philistines, in the guise of Thank God for the Bomb. Lee's enthralling cacophony works marvels at the shadow of Van Halen (Ain't Talking ‘Bout Love); the remainder conveys a vicious assault for the controversial, paradoxical issue, rendered through memorable lyrics.

"Today was tomorrow, yesterday
It's funny how time can slip away
The face of the doomsday clock
Has launched a thousand wars
As we near the final hour
Time is the only foe we have"

Never updates OZZY's anthem of romantic disillusion. Guitar stunts utterly bizarre for such a confessional have the feel of 1980's I Don't Know. Disguised as Hair Metal, lyrics seem a distraction. Post-Punk bridge leads to a Duran Duran-soundalike chorus, one in which Ozzy counters Julian Lennon: "it's not too late for goodbyes". Atmospheric mood seems adequate but haphazard proceedings disagree.

Rock N'Roll clichés (thunderbolts, lightning) are invoked for Lightning Strikes, Ozzy's attempt at a Judas Priest crossover (taking fun out of Kiss' God of Thunder). Eerily predating Judas' 1988 Heavy Metal (Lee double tracked guitars in locked riffing), bass more pronouncedly featured, drumming back to basics - what about the chorus, Van Halen under oceans of booze Tasteless, yet tasty.

Haunting processed acoustics, keyboard-filled melodies provide a Mr. Crowley feel to Killer of Giants - much gentler a track, displaying the delicateness of Jake E. Lee's virtuosity, immediately tramping the remainder under radiating grandiosity. Touching Ozzy resounds without alcohol. Dio Black Sabbath-like chorus kills momentum, way too slow. Almost a classic, a triumph of sorts. Keyboard carousels foster a renewed dizzy madman.

Stalked by media, doomed by Randy Rhoads' death, Ozzy resorts to paranoid habits in Fool Like You. Ebbing/flowing against contradictions/incomprehension (cringing nu-Metal keyboards), he thrives in rebel madness. Quoting his favorite band (Strawberry Fields Forever) under washes of guitars, by "misunderstanding all you see" he is a fool...Like us. Lee's compelling Malmsteen solo consolidates the compelling, balking Melodic Metal lucidity.

Ozzy's contender for mid-1980s power ballads of is the enthusiastic, keyboard-stricken sheen of Shot in the Dark. With a cheesy chorus predating Whitesnake's Is This Love it become a hit - a superficial one, with powerful guitars, but the least distinctive of the entire album. Brief faux-Bluesy soloing fits in the mid-1980s, not without its consequences. Mediocrity abounds - although briefly functional.

Underrated Showing - 80%

InsomniumVR, August 12th, 2012

I was around 13 when I received my first copy of the Ultimate Sin. I did not really care for the album as much at the time. The Ultimate Sin is one of those albums that people either really like or really dislike. The Ultimate Sin has, more or less, become the black sheep of Ozzy's solo career, as it has fallen in line with the other major metal bands foray into the unknown 80's "hair metal" genre. Perhaps that is a bit too drastic, to lump it in with Judas Priest's "Turbo," and Black Sabbath (Featuring Tony Iommi)'s "Seventh Star." The Ultimate Sin is actually a pretty good, albeit poorly produced and at times rushed, album, and in my opinion Jake E. Lee's best, and ironically final, performance on an Ozzy Osbourne record.

The song writing is actually very mature and detailed, filled with a myriad of dark and haunting themes. Overwhelming depression (Secret Loser), The machinations of Ozzy Osbourne avoiding the blistering anger he has suffered throughout his career (The Ultimate Sin), and a story from the eyes of a sniper ending a person's life (Shot in the Dark). However, this is also another album that features a preachy ballad from Ozzy. Songs like Fool Like You, Thank God for the Bomb, and Killer of Giants seem just so misplaced. "Fool Like You" seems like a stereotypical 80s song meant for a pop radio station. "Killer of Giants" is just like Revelation (Mother Earth), another Ozzy Osbourne song. In which there is a very loud plea to stop fighting and learn to love one another. Ozzy seems to have songs like those every so often within his career, and while they are noble themes. It loses its luster when, not only is it so apparent that he hasn't wrote a single line of those songs, but they're almost exactly the same as any of the other songs, with the same theme, within his discography. Especially when there is such a quick contradiction with a song like Thank God for the Bomb, which is exactly what you think it is. A stereotypical 80s song thanking the heavens that the Nuclear Bomb was invented. It all seems really poorly put together at times.

Phil Soussan is not only an excellent bassist, but he is a very talented song writer as well. When you see the cover of The Ultimate Sin, or even the musician behind the album in Ozzy Osbourne, naturally there will be some trepidation about what you are about to listen to. I will say that not only was I pleasantly surprised by the maturity of the song writing, as previously stated, but how brilliant the song structure was. Naturally with the mid 80s and the explosion of hair bands and the need for pop happy hits, I was pleasantly surprised with the musicianship of Phil Soussan and Jake E. Lee. Both were able to weave great writing, catchy riffs, and music that fit straight in with the 80s while still hanging on to what made Ozzy Osbourne such a prolific face in the history of this genre.

This ties into my next point. Jake E. Lee is a fantastic guitarist. News to everyone, right? He has the unlucky designation in history of being sandwiched right in between the iconic Randy Rhoads and Zakk Wylde. His abrasive personality and his lack of new material over the last 20 years has also stunted his popularity and recognition among fans of Ozzy. Personally, I think much of his music rivals even the great Randy Rhoads. Concise riffs, solos that seem to take the best of his own blues infused style and even a hint of influence from Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple fame. Jake E. Lee is able to carve his own niche among the many faces of Ozzy guitarists and leave a daunting impact on Ozzy's solo career.

Perhaps the biggest complaint is the poor production. The production on half the songs seems like pure rubbish as either Ozzy decided that double tracking his voice and leaving the guitars and bass fluctuating between flat and vibrant leave the listener disappointed at what could have been with sharper production and perhaps just a few more months of collaboration and organization.

What you have here is essentially a pile of good songs sandwiched in between a lot of filler and a lot of unnecessary songs. However, there are hidden gems, and surprisingly mature themes, lyrics, and musicianship from a cast that was about to radically change over the next 2 years. Songs like "Secret Loser," "The Ultimate Sin," and "Lightning Strikes" are all brilliant additions and a unique 80s look and taste from Ozzy Osbourne. While there are flaws with the album, this is not a piece of Ozzy's discography that should go overlooked. Underrated is the best way to describe this.

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The madman is back in shape! - 83%

evermetal, October 16th, 2009

Ozzy himself has called this album an “alcoholic bullshit”. I don’t believe he really meant it the way some believe. I think it has to do more with the state he was in at the time. Their previous one was quite heavy but tended more to commercial. So, is this one its’ sequel in an attempt to aim for success? If this is what you think you are so damned mistaken! The Ultimate Sin is a tremendously good album close to the standards of Diary of A Madman. Even though it is probably the most melodic one so far it does not lose its’ power. In fact it balances these two elements almost perfectly.

Once again a big change in the line-up has occurred. Ozzy tries to freshen up the band by recruiting Phil Soussan on the bass and Randy Castillo on the drums. It turned out to be a very clever move in the end. They have brought a new sound and energy to the band that prevents them from sound old-dated and tiresome.

The album begins with the self-titled song which is rather mid-tempo but manages to give out a heavy feeling. Jake E. Lee seems less stressed-up now and his guitar playing is very improved. The song ends with bombastic drums. A fine start I have to admit. Things get better by the second track. Secret Loser is the opposite of its’ title. It is a heavy/rock thunder built around a strong, heavy riff and features a fine solo by Lee. There is a nice break by the drums ‘till the song fades out beautifully.

Up to now things are too good to be true based on my expectations. I am not to be let down. Never Know Why is pretty damn steady and solid. Castillo is the best drummer so far and helps the song by playing really hard. The band sounds as if they’ve been together for some time. That’s a big leverage. The whole climate does not change on the following track, Thank God for the Bomb. Yet, another metal explosion with sharp guitars and an impressive rhythm section. The lyrics here are kind of anti-war ones. Ozzy deals with world problems; strange but true!

Never is a song a bit poorer in quality but still catchy and easy to listen to. It doesn’t take out any points from the album but is well balanced. The same nice guitars prevail in Lightning Strikes. Maybe the chorus could have been worked a little better but the atmosphere remains fine and heavy. I am surprised to see that all the compositions until now are of a high level in general. Well done Ozzy!

Forget the sleazy ballad stuff you heard on Bark at the Moon. Killer of Giants is a heavy powerful kind of ballad with a killer solo and a blasting sudden break in the middle. The tension falls back before the finale making the song a hit for me. Doesn’t lose its interest throughout the whole five and half minutes. Awesome!

If the last two songs were more killers than fillers then I would definitely think of The Ultimate Sin as a masterpiece. Unfortunately, Fool Like You is quite mediocre and the feeling here is not as thrilling as we lived it in the almost perfect tracks earlier on. And what is the fuss with Shot in the Dark? What is there to love in this song? Okay, it is mot horrible but it is nothing special either. I think I hear some nice keyboards in this, yet it sounds more hard rock to me than metal. It is quite cool I suppose to listen in the radio.

All in all I have to say that this release will blow you away. Personally I find this to be miles better than their debut, more or less equal to the superb Diary… and a lot better than Bark at the Moon. I will describe it as brilliantly, perfectly performed melodic heavy metal. Surely one of his two-best albums. Way to go madman!

This is underrated, alright! - 86%

VampireKiller, February 18th, 2008

1986 was quite an amazing year for metal. On the one hand we had good and some not so good hair metal bands that dominated the mainstream, and on the other hand we had the extreme metal underground which was in top form, as that year saw the release of 3 albums that some will consider being thrash/extreme metal masterpieces; namely "Master of Puppets", "Reign in Blood" and "Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?". And in the middle of the commotion, some bands like Judas Priest, who had once played traditional metal, decided to go for a more streamlined accessible sound as they introduced synthesizers on their album "Turbo" which was also released in 1986. This resulted in a mixed bag, some songs being commercialised fun rockers, and other songs sounding almost like techno metal! But I'm here to review this album now, and not "Turbo"

Ozzy also decided to go for a more streamlined sound, albeit with better results IMO as the synths are not overpowering and can be compared to the usage of synths on Maiden's 1986 masterpiece "Somewhere in Time". This album is also apparently very disliked by Ozzy himself, for reasons I will never understand why

The album starts off with the title track, which is instantly recognisable with its march like drum intro and the riffs are also infectitious as hell. The lyrics are pretty insightful and interesting, although they are probably more open to personal interpretation than a defined meaning. The one downside is the outro melody, which almost sounds like music from a pirate movie for some strange reason

"Secret Loser" is the first song that can be considered "hair metal", but it's a bloody good one! The main riff is pretty basic, but catchy as anything can fucking be! The synth section is also a brilliant addition

"Never Know Why" is a pretty shallow little rocker, but it also has a catchy riff and a catchy chorus, but the chorus sounds like it's ripped off from Dio's "We Rock"

"Thank God for the Bomb" is a pretty weak song, along with "Never" for some reason. I just don't like it very much. It's hard to explain why

As I said before, "Never" is also a pretty weak song IMO. It's a bit too wimpy for my tastes, especially the lines: "Over and over again, over and over again"

And then we have "Lightning Strikes", which also stinks pretty much. It has a pretty heavy and catchy main riff, but everything goes to hell with the Bon Jovi inspired chorus and vocal lines

But then the ship rises up from the bottom of the sea in triumph with the next song; "Killer of Giants". And by God, this song could kill giants with pure catchiness. Ozzy's vocal performance is absolutely awe inspiring and full of emotion, not to mention Jake's guitar solo with that little repetitive pentatonic lick that drives me crazy! Definitely an all time classic

"Fool Like You" is a very underrated song IMO, with it's catchy semi-chorus and Jake's two catchy guitar solos. There's not much more to say about it, really

And finally we come to "Shot in the Dark", and boy, this is a classic that I hope that everybody knows. I only listened to it for the first time about two months ago, and I'm a bit ashamed of this. I don't think I have to talk anymore about this classic

Buy this album if you want quality semi-hair metal, if you want a different perspective on Ozzy, or simply if you want some great fucking metal!

More sleaze and hair but still good songs - 80%

morbert, November 16th, 2007

Although at times the album tends to get too sleazy there are five mighty tunes making it worthwhile for Ozzy fans to own this album and play it regularly. Opening title track ‘The Ultimate Sin’ is so very heavy. A great drum beat evolving into a pounding mid paced banger with an excellent main riff (the best on the album) and strong chorus.

Another classic is ‘Killer Of giants’ which starts off with a very good clean intro an evolves in a power ballad that is an exception to the ‘Ozzy’s ballads suck’ rule. It really is a strong ballad with good lyrics. Third classic is ‘Shot in the Dark’ which does not divide the fans. We all love ‘Shot in the Dark’ even though it’s rather sleazy. It simply is a beautiful song.

Fourth classic worth mentioning is the powerful song ‘Never’ which had a brilliant opening break that would have suited Van Halen as well as Extreme and a main mighty riff referring to ‘Bark At The Moon’ . Another highlight is ‘Thank God for the Bomb’ which, despite the omnipresent sleaziness, has a strong chorus and I always had a soft spot for the ‘Nuke Ya Nuke Ya’ vocals.

‘Secret Loser’ is a decent rocker but as said some hair metal tendencies do damage the intensity of the song. Same goes for ‘Fool Like You’. The chorus of ‘Never Know Why’ could have come straight from any Twisted Sister album. And knowing I am a Twisted Sister fan, you will understand I like this song but objectively speaking it does not belong to the best songs on this album. ‘Lightning Strikes’ is by far the weakest link here, being a very dull hair metal song with an extremely boring chorus.

Apart from 4 lesser interesting songs also the production was not something to be happy about. It has a Hardrock-Light sound all around. The album would have been so much better with a really heavy guitar sound and Neanderthal pounding drums. But then again: Brilliant album cover, 5 very good and excellent songs. You can’t go wrong with this one if you’re into Ozzy.

The most underrated album in metal history. - 100%

hells_unicorn, November 14th, 2007

Whenever you bring up the name Ozzy Osbourne, the first likely word association that would follow would be “Crazy Train”, “Mr. Crowley” or “Iron Man”. If you go into any guitar store in America, you’ll hear those songs being butchered horribly by young aspiring axe men trying to grasp the fine art of shredding. Naturally when asked who Ozzy’s greatest guitarist was, ESP is not required to correctly expect Rhandy Rhodes as a response, nor would it be out of place for the occasional young metal fan to suggest that Zakk Wylde was the true six stringed genius in the Prince of Darkness’s lengthy tenure. I, by no standard seek to downplay the talent of two obvious shred masters, but for those who ignore all the media hype and pedestrian fan boy worship of Blizzard of Ozz, a different picture begins to take hold.

“The Ultimate Sin” presents the threshold of 80s cheese and excess in its barest form, sporting an over-the-top album cover illustration and 9 equally outlandish yet ingenious tributes to metal and shred. The song structures are simple in their order; the lyrics dance between partying, mystical themes, and socio-political topics; and the guitar riffs and fills come at you full assault for the entire 40 minutes plus printed onto its analog medium. Its keyboard usage is surprisingly tasteful, avoiding the heavy atmospheric tendencies of “Mr. Crowley” and “Diary of a Madman”, and gives the guitar the necessary space to fill out the entire arrangement with its splendor.

“Never” takes the award for the most insane riff monster to ever come out of a project that Ozzy has been associated with. You find yourself constantly replaying it because you’re sure you missed something and every time it plays it perfectly walks the line between intelligibility and complexity. The title track is the heaviest thing to come out of Ozzy’s repertoire in the 80s, the opening riff having some similarities to Accept’s hard edged mid-tempo material, although occasionally kicking into a brief speed metal interlude. Of all the releases put out by the former Sabbath front man, this has the most double bass work, although still not quite venturing into speed metal territory for an entire song.

“Secret Loser” has a certain nostalgic value for me as I first heard it at age 7 while watching the famed 1986 Charlie Sheen action thriller “The Wraith”. It’s your typical up tempo, mid-80s, metal single with all the catchy melodies and simple riffs but it kicks ass, especially when listening to on a road trip. “Thank God for the Bomb” is another catchy rocker from the same mold, but with a lot more lead guitar fills and a squeaky clean vocal delivery by Ozzy, something rarely heard from a man with one of the ugliest voices in rock. “Lightning Strikes” sounds like a variation on “Crazy Train” with a slight groove in the Anthrax’s “Medusa” variety, but with 10 times the lead interjections. Even the epic ballad “Killer of Giants” can’t help but kick ass. Jake E. Lee opts to compose his own elaborate classical guitar intro rather than borrow one from Leo Brouwer like his predecessor did, and ultimately composes something even more epic and moving than what Rhodes accomplished on the title track of the 2nd LP.

The most contentious of all the songs on this magnum opus is the first single “Shot in the Dark”, not in the least because Ozzy himself constantly knocks it as if it were some sort of mistake he made in the 80s. Honestly, his attitude towards this rather brilliantly memorable metal anthem can only be explained as the incoherent ravings of a brain dead ex-junkie who can barely find his own ass with both hands, which is basically what you see if you can catch a rerun of The Osbournes. The lyrics are catchy, the chorus commands to be sung along with, and the riff work is in perfect order. The guitar solo is the greatest ever played by Jake E. Lee and it rivals everything Rhandy Rhodes did.

No matter how old this album becomes, the better it gets with every single listen, in no small way because of Jake E. Lee’s work on here and the fact that Ozzy keeps his voice within his comfort zone. I don’t care how many modern rock boneheads yuck up how cheesy this album sounds to them or how many times I hear the washed up Prince of Stonedness disown it. This is an album that fully summed up everything that was great about the 80s, the decade that gave birth to most of the still present sub-genres that currently compete for the metal crown. Forget Ozzy’s opinion, forget those of the talking heads in guitar magazines and on MTV, this is the most underrated album in metal’s 4 decade history.

A Highly Spirted Ozzy Performance - 85%

Luvers, July 6th, 2007
Written based on this version: 1988, CD, Epic Records

What does hindsight reveal about Ozzy in all of his solo glory? A few things become readily obvious. The first thing is that Ozzy, despite his best efforts, is far from a high quality singer. The second thing is his 80's output was saturated in more cheese than most glam bands. It appears that only the first two were not horribly clichéd, with little inspiration to them. Rather these two things are true or not, here, on at least one album, the notions are thrown away, including YES the one about Ozzy 'not being able to sing'.

I will even go as far as saying this is the best Ozzy solo album bar none. Ozzy's performance here is astounding and ranks with Sabotage as the finest of his long and often embarrassing career. All the songs are first-rate and proficient, no defective ballads incorrectly placed and killing the pace. The lyrical topics are very much in vain of the Glam Metal that was all the craze in 1986 but they are not quite childish and woefully inane like every album after this. That is the sad reality about Ozzy though, this collection of uninteresting and campy lyrics are more intelligent(?) and sophisticated than every album ever. Maybe they are tolerable since they are delivered with powerful atmospheric metal.

So what of the music? It is only natural that if Ozzy is delivering the goods the band would be up to par; the fact the band consists of the talents of the late Randy Castillo and bass extraordinaire Phil Soussan meant there was a much younger talent providing the backbone than the three albums prior. The result is an extremely well crafted dose of progressive style energetic percussion alongside thick slabs of thunderous bottom end, which are not subdued by what is an otherwise expertly crafted production by UFO, Bad Company and Thin Lizzy producer Ron Nevison.

While possibly still taking a back seat to the guitar playing, as is the case with most 80's metal, this is not a mistake. When you have the services of a guitarist like Jake E Lee, you place him front and center. His dazzling skills were already displayed on the previous album but here he demonstrates his songwriting abilities, which would grow with his work in Badlands and beyond. Even the immortal Randy Rhoads failed to pack as many riffs into any one song like Jake did. The compositions are fluid and tastefully rapid. This rapid pace forced Ozzy into much faster vocal melodies, which is where he usually shines anyway.

While all of the music is tight and thoroughly constructed, the stand-outs on the album are Fool Like You for showcasing Ozzy in a broad range, and serious progressive songwriting. Killer of Giants for being the epic Ozzy had been building to during the first three albums. Acoustic arrangements, emotional verses, defiant and rebellious choruses, blistering guitar leads. Never since it is another one of Ozzy's crowning achievements at vocals and the solo has such tasty shredding; one of the finest to ever grace an Ozzy recording.

It is known that most hate this album since it seems like a cynical cash grab at commercial success, however that may very well be why it works. Ozzy knew what he was at this point and the sleazy songwriting worked to his greatest strength; the silly hokum allows for vacuous entertainment. If you want to hear Ozzy at his all-time best in terms of lyrics, vocal ability, songwriting and cohesion with the band, this is that performance as a solo artist, while Sabotage was it during his Sabbath years. It comes as no surprise that this album took three years to hit the shelves after its equally impressive though flawed predecessor.

Solid - 78%

DawnoftheShred, December 4th, 2006

As the title suggests, this is actually a pretty good album. It’s not outstanding necessarily, but it’s consistent throughout and generally a good listen. You won’t find anybody putting it in their top albums of all time, probably not even their top Ozzy albums, but it’s not bad by any means.

The most noticeable aspect of The Ultimate Sin is the general lack of cheesiness. All the Bark at the Moon style 80’s synth effects are pretty much gone. There’s still occasional synthesizer work to add a little atmosphere, but it’s never the focus of the song. That leaves the album as a far more natural, guitar-oriented rocker throughout, which is how Ozzy’s albums should be. It’s a lot heavier than all the band’s previous albums and Jake E. Lee’s guitar playing is noticeably better as well. The instrumentation is the reason for picking this up, as there’s a lot of great music. Unfortunately, Ozzy does little for this album. His voice sounds tired and weak and the lyrics are pretty much forgettable. He has a few shining moments, namely on “Shot in the Dark,” but his performance generally sucks.

Yet despite its flaws I like this album. The songwriting is good, the music is good, and some of the songs are quite memorable. Ironically, I’d like it a lot better if Ozzy wasn’t singing on it, but a lot of people feel that way about most of his albums.

Highlights: “Shot in the Dark” and “Killer of Giants”

A damn good Ozzy - 81%

Wez, November 7th, 2004

Those old Ozzy's are really damn cool, and "The Ultimate Sin" is no exception. It tends to get left behind when discussing Ozzy's best solo works, but this is a damn good record all the same. An 80s heavy metal style flavoured with some extra melody played very neatly and precisely with some insanely good shredding from then guitarist Jake E. Lee. The man himself is actually on better form vocally than he often is, managing to not go off key most of the time and giving some perhaps surprisingly commendable performances. The good ol' rhythm section is again, more solid than taking the songs by the reigns and driving them along on their own terms.

Getting down to business quickly with songs that stomp all over the place and pack a convincing wallop clearly in the majority, and show Ozzy's greater vocal control straight from the start. This direct, but in some ways elaborate approach with its emphasis put on making a song work as a whole and not creating too rigid a centre is enrooted firmly in the album's core. But there's sufficient diversity to keep things from crumbling but also not too much to take it too far afield. There's not any overtly "what the fuck?" style moments that are always a potential threat. A typically 80s metal vibe does get to take over and "Secret Loser" and "Lightning Strikes" manage to get top marks for what they are, filled with all the proper hooks and lead guitar restless and hungry. Stadium rock creeps its way into the songwriting in places ("Never Know Why" par example), though the hooks are still there as the song races along and keeps itself upright in quality and performance. They do make for some of the less interesting but certainly still competent songs on here. There's also the mellower "Killer of Giants" that rises up in an effective manner and is fine tuned to perfection, so to speak. A fairly commonplace sort of song done by numbers, but this one with an original Ozzy twist. Jake E. Lee once again given chance to prove himself. A sort of combination of the more melodious and robust ideas form the closer "Shot in the Dark", a definite stand out, but one the man himself seems to hate (also why he seems not to like this album in general). All I can say is he's a complete idiot, because this is by far a highlight of the album.

While not to put Ozzy on too high a pedestal, him and his band have clearly got themselves a solid effort here with pretty much everything above average. The playing is very competent and concentrated but never too extravagant, making this accessible but strangely intricate at the same time.

Inconsistent, but not bad. - 74%

Nightcrawler, July 26th, 2003

This is actually not all as bad as it's made out to be. Ozzy's vocals have definitely improved from the previous albums, sounding somewhat stronger and much less whiny. He still sounds quite weak and whiny, but not as bad as on previous recordings.
The guitarwork of Jake E. Lee is as usual solid, but unspectacular. He can pull off some nice fucking riffs and solos at times, but sometimes he forgets about this and puts out some meaningless wankery instead (Never opening riff comes to mind).
The basswork is as usual on Ozzy's albums quite prominent in the mix, but what separates the bassplaying on here from his early offerings (the first two especially) is that it's actually good, instead of plodding and boring.
Randy Castillo is a pretty average drummer. He's got some catchy beats nailed down, but for the most part he gets pretty predictable. The crash and ride cymbals also sound pretty damn pathetic, so they completely lose their effect for the most part.

The style hasn't really changed alot from previous Ozzy albums. It's all pretty straightforward, somewhat melodic heavy metal going on at a generally midpaced speed. But, like on all of his albums, there are deviations. Some examples are Secret Loser, which is unusually upbeat and melodic, and Shot in the Dark, which aims mainly for atmosphere and does so very well.
The songwriting is pretty inconsistent, unfortunately, which is something Ozzy suffers from alot.

The album starts off really good. Title track is a nice, midpaced headbanger. Secret Loser just fucking owns; classic heavy metal with excellent melodic ideas and awesome riffs. Never Know Why is fun and catchy, and not bad at all.
But after that, he doesn't really get it together. Thank God for the Bomb has a fairly cool riff, but the verses are overemotional and the chorus is like the dumbest fucking pile of goo known to mankind. Never is one of the worst songs he ever wrote- boring and completely forgettable- and let's not forget that shitty excuse of an opening riff. Then suddenly, Lightning Strikes comes out of nowhere with that awesome midpaced opening riff, and moves on with intense dark-yet-upbeat verses and a catchy bridge... and then it suddenly sucks even more than Never. The over-happy, cheesy and horribly annoying chorus pretty much completely ruins what could be the greatest song on the album. Killer of Giants is an above average ballad for Ozzy standards- that acoustic intro is really excellent. Fool Like You... I still can't remember anything at all from this song, except that it's very, very forgettable.
Then, Shot in the Dark closes the album in a great fashion. Atmospheric, melodic and insanely catchy- the best song on the album.

The Ultimate Sin features some of Ozzy's greatest songwriting up to date, but also some of his worst. I think Never qualifies as my least favourite Ozzy Osbourne song of all time- yes, it may even be worse than Spiders in the Night.
But it shouldn't be easily dismissed either, it's definitely worth getting for the first three tracks and Shot in the Dark.

Boring - 65%

radiohater, July 7th, 2003

This album is by far the least loved of Ozzy's extensive catalogue. It has been slammed as boring and bland, with the man himself even hating the record so much it was deleted from his catalogue as of April 2002 and is no longer in production. This was also Jake E Lee's last album with Ozzy, going on to form Badlands with Ray Gillen, which was a much better exercise than his stint with Ozzy.

Is the album really deserving of the criticism it recieves? I say not quite, but it does itself no real favours here either.

The album starts with the title track, which is a slow grinding number that's eally heavy. The guitar work provided by Jake E Lee is good, although a few hair-metal elements are present. This is about as good as it gets really.

Following this is Secret Loser, which is a faster paced number, with killer guitar work by Jake E Lee, and a catchy chorus. Despite being one of the better tracks on the album, it's still rather non-descript by Ozzy's standards.

After a wierd opening passage, Never Know Why gets started. This sounds like something Bon Jovi would do. Very bland at best, even with the verse riff, and the annoying synths that can be found here to. Throwaway. The lyrics are cheesy crap that I'd expect from Poison.

Thank God For The Bomb starts with an interesting riff, which when the vocals come in is replaced with a riff stolen from a hair band. Some good guitar work, but lacks originality and feels rather uninspired.

Never follows, and actually has a busy guitar riff, it's a pity that the rest of band don't add to it. The chorus is really good and is one of the better tracks here. A nice emotional section intensified by some cool drum fills. The solo and the riff underneath it are boring, and it's not until the double-bass comes in that the solo picks up the pace. The lyrics are better on this one, but are not up to Bob Daisley's lyrics on the first two albums.

Despite sounding hair metal-ish and having some really tosh lyrics, Lightning Strikes is a great track driven by a great riff from Jake E Lee. The song is let down by the chorus, which is synth-driven and really cheesy (Rockin' all night ... did Bret Michaels write these?). Great soloing can be found here too.

Killer Of Giants is up next and starts up with an interesting acoustic passage, which is atmospheric and well-executed. Unfortunately it's destroyed when the vocals come in, and further desecrated by the synths. The chorus comes off as really uninspired and boring. The solo even sounds quite uninspired as well. It's not until it speeds up when it actually sounds atmospheric, with the synths not coming across as annoying, and some good picking from Jake. Unforunately it returns to the boring chorus.

Fool Like You comes next, and I swear I've heard this on this disc before! It sounds like a slower version of Secret Loser in places. A great solo here cannot save this one from being just a bland throwaway.

The disc closes with Shot In The Dark. Quite atmospheric, and quite well-executed, making it one of the better songs on the disc. Nice slide work can be found here on the solo. A strong and inspired closer to the album which unfortunately the rest of the album can't really match.

Apart from some parts on the disc, this album seems thrown together and uninspired. Consequentially it pales in comparison to his other works. If you are yet to hear any Ozzy, DO NOT start here.

Secret Loser? I don't think so! - 94%

thrashassault, May 29th, 2003

This really is the best Ozzy work to date in my opinion. Ozzy's vocals sound better then anything he has done before. Jake E. Lee has come up with some awesome riffs and constructed them great for these songs. Every song on this album is magnificent.
The Ultimate Sin kicks off with The Ultimate Sin! The only really downside of this song is the flanger riff at the end of the chorus around 1:30 in the song. The solo for this song is lame too. Other then that the songs has great pounding drums and a great arena rock sound that would get your fists pumping!
Secret Loser is just a killer song. The instruments don't do a whole lot for me, though the cool artificial harmonics at the end of the bridges are pretty cool. Ozzy's singing in this song makes this song and makes it very superb.
Never Know Why is another great arena rock anthem. "You'll Never Know Why We ROCK ROCK!!" Just an all out rocking tune.
Thank God For The Bomb is probably my least favorite song on this album. It really has a corny verse riff, and the lyrics are really cheesy too. If there were any filler songs on here this could just be one of them.
Another song where the vocals make the song a great song. Never has some good riffs but nothing fantastic compared to the rest of the album. But the chorus and bridges are just amazing due to the lyrics and vocals.
Lighting Never Strikes Twice!!! Great lyrics, great rhythm riffs, great vocals!!! One of my favorite songs on this album... Just a great song where you can crank up your car stereo and yell along with the vocals. This is probably the first song on this album that has a solo that stands out and is actually a more complex solo.
Killer Giants is an epic song about the horrors of war and what is to come if nothing changes about nuclear weapons. A great ballad sounding song with the heavy chorus. Very catchy song, the lyrics really stick in your head.
Fool Like You, not one of my favorite songs but a good one at that.. The song sounds just like everything else on the album which not a bad thing. Nothing remarkable though....
The album close up with Shot In The Dark. What a great song to stick at the end. Great intro, very memorable chorus! Shot In The Dark was the only song from this album that really stuck with Ozzy's career. Which is a shame cause some of these songs that didn't make it are classics.