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

Won't You Listen 'Cos I’m At It Again - 97%

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!