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Ozzy Osbourne
Ordinary Man

I can’t believe I’m going to start off my review this way, but let’s address the elephant in the room. Are we all sitting around waiting with abated breath for the horrible news of Ozzy Osborne’s passing? Christ, I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud, but the thought of metal’s anointed prince of darkness no longer among us is a terrible reality that might come sooner than we think.

What with his recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, then the sudden cancellation of many upcoming live shows has got everyone buzzing about the madman biting that big bat in the sky one final time. I Perish the thought, but when listing to his latest album – I get the feeling even he knows it’s true.

Ordinary Man dropped on February 21 through Epic Records; his first new studio album in 10 years following Scream (2010). The time in between those records was spent putting Black Sabbath to bed for good and now seemingly, it might be the same with his solo career.

This could be it folks and it’s so fucking sad. Remember, Bowie put out Blackstar as his final musical statement and as haunting as that was – Ozzy has turned in a similar piece of art. It rocks, it’s funny and sad all at the same time and after each listen I get that large gulp in my throat.

But putting that sad fact aside, the opening track makes an immediate impact with Slash on guitar and Ozzy going batshit crazy with “Straight to Hell”. This song evokes the Ozzy of old and is the perfect beginning to what promises to be the musical journey of a lifetime. The Prince of Darkness is on his A game here, rocking hard with Slash getting those killer licks in for that exclamation point.

The next few tracks remain steady rockers – “All My Life” and “Goodbye” featuring album producer Andrew Watt on guitar, Duff McKagan on bass and Chad Smith on drums. These are descent numbers tinged with sludgy-doomy guitars and lyrics that set-up the theme of finality that will run through the core of the album.

Which brings me to my next thought once “Ordinary Man” starts up with the honey soaked piano sounds (brought to you by Elton john) and Ozzy singing about his end. I cried here for several reasons because this is essentially his goodbye song to his fans. It’s an incredible ballad and what better way to enlist Elton John to help ease his fans into the sad reality that the end is near. Ozzy does his best lyrically to tell everyone that he’s just a guy done with the stage and is going to accept the next stage of life.

To compound matters even more, “Under the Graveyard” drives this point home further. My heart couldn’t take it when you listen to Ozzy saying the end is near. The song continues the doomy-sludgy template, so you really start having the maudlin mood set in to your listening experience.

Ozzy Osbourne
Ordinary Man
(Epic Records)
Written by: Kenneth Gallant
8 out of 10

Although, Ozzy bounces back with a humorous number entitled “Eat Me”, proving all is not lost on these ears. I think a bit of humor alleviates some of the dourness cemented into the tracks and you will dig how invigorating the vibe makes you feel again. I can also say the same thing for “Scary Little Green Men” which rocks hard and brings more playfulness to the proceedings. Tom Morello contributes some kick ass guitar solos and it’s a fun little ditty as far as I am concerned.

Then comes “Holy for Tonight” which is the song to bring the mood back down and it certainly feels like this is the end when the lyrics keep repeating it’s a lonely night and tomorrow is my last goodbye. Ozzy continues to sing about taking his last breath and how lonely he feels on his final night before embarking into the void forever more. This is heady stuff and it should be the song to cap off the album, only two Post Malone collaborations are tacked on after that.

I won’t go into the particulars surrounding rapper Post Malone’s involvement in Ozzy’s world, since they don’t really fit into this, but it proves his openness to be creative beyond the typical metal template. So for the record we get “It’s a Raid” and “Take what you Want” to close out Ordinary Man. I can’t help but feel like the last two tracks cheapens this sordid affair a bit, although I just tend to skip them both after a few times I dipped into listening to the record.

If this is going to be the last hurrah from Ozzy, then I feel like the album will be the perfect closing statement on a long and illustrious career. You can’t mistake how remarkable he sounds as a vocalist at age 71 and Ordinary Man stills provides some fire in is belly. Sad, witty and wicked all at the same time, Ordinary Man is a record that I thoroughly enjoyed; shedding a few tears in the process.

Even with the Parkinson’s diagnosis, Ozzy strives ahead sounding creatively viable despite the terrible odds stacked up against him. There is no other performer like the Prince of Darkness and I for one am happy he pushes ahead to bring his fans music that we grow to love and appreciate. Heavy metal will always be in his blood and I suspect his music will continue to be worshipped long after he’s gone.

Kenneth Gallant, HMS

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