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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.