Ozzy Osbourne, Jockstrap, Robbie Williams, Santigold, Oliver Sim

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Ozzy Osbourne, Affected person Quantity 9 ★★★★☆

There was a time when it appeared unlikely that we’d hear from Ozzy Osbourne once more. Heavy metallic’s clown prince of darkness has had a tough few years, through which he revealed that he has Parkinson’s illness (recognized in 2003 however stored secret till 2019), was hospitalised for pneumonia, Covid and blood clots, and underwent “life-changing” surgical procedure following a fall. A deliberate farewell tour has been postponed a number of occasions: the dates are at present pencilled in for 2023. 

Then up he popped on the Commonwealth Video games in his native Birmingham final month, strapped to a again brace to maintain him vertical, grinning with delight as he roared by way of the 1970 anthem Paranoid accompanied by his previous Black Sabbath sidekick Tony Iommi on guitar. Now, right here’s his thirteenth solo album (so as to add to the 9 he recorded with Sabbath), Affected person Quantity 9: a defiantly bravura set of melodic metallic on which the 73-year-old genuinely sounds as if he’s having the time of his life.

Osbourne’s regal standing is confirmed by the starry high quality of his supporting gamers, together with all-time nice guitarists Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. The core backing band is made up of Metallica bassist Roberto Trujillo and Crimson Scorching Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, augmented by members of Weapons ’N Roses, Queens of the Stone Age, Pearl Jam and the late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins. Iommi seems for the primary time on an Osbourne solo album, bringing psychedelic Sabbath riffing to No Escape From Now, a sludgy tempo-shifting epic of dread and concern. “Reminiscences go up in flames / Shovel grime upon my identify / See my future circle in a drain,” Osbourne wails. This, to be truthful, is the type of factor that passes for good cheer in his horrormeister oeuvre.

Nobody ever went to an Ozzy Osbourne report for knowledge and self-reflection, and being confronted along with his mortality every day doesn’t appear to have modified him a lot. “I’m not getting out alive,” he sings on the title monitor – however fairly than a rumination on the inevitable, it’s just a few silliness about life being like an asylum. By the second monitor, Immortal, Osbourne is wailing about being a vampire. In a latest interview, he admitted that he didn’t at all times perceive Geezer Butler’s fantastical Sabbath lyrics, and that personally he “may sing about any previous s–t”. The lurid Degradation Guidelines is credited to all key musicians, so we will’t lay all of the blame on Osbourne for its “sticky little magazines” and “masturbating fools”.

Essentially the most eloquent moments belong to the guitarists. Beck tears up the title monitor and provides atmospheric aptitude to the stately A Thousand Shades, a ballad that wouldn’t embarrass Noel Gallagher. It’s fascinating to listen to Clapton’s delicate bluesy twists in a heavy metallic context on One in every of These Days, the place Osbourne nearly sounds soulful singing a couple of lack of religion. His voice has by no means been significantly nimble: what it has is tone and energy, and producer Andrew Watt is adept at constructing huge, thrilling tracks to encompass Osbourne’s bellowing. The virtuoso guitarist Zakk Wylde does lots of the heavy lifting, driving huge riffs by way of songs with schlocky titles equivalent to Parasite, Mr Darkness and Evil Shuffle.

Proper on the shut, God Solely Is aware of hints at one thing approaching profundity, as Osbourne addresses the concern that will have at all times lurked behind his fascination with horror imagery. “Surprise what is going to come after / Will we do all of it once more? / Issues that used to matter / They don’t matter ultimately,” he sings. But he stays defiant to the final: “Higher to burn in hell than fade away.” On Affected person Quantity 9, the previous satan’s nonetheless burning. Neil McCormick

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