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A lot has changed since the man christened John Osbourne released a record into this world. For Starters, the man is now seen as the God-Father of all things Metal, thanks in no small part to the annual Ozz-fest taking rock to the masses and the Black Sabbath reunion that saw all generations gather and pay homage to the originators of the music they hold so dear. And, in the five years since ‘Ozzmosis’, Ozzy has had his solo career almost erased from the memory by everyone and their pet cat, but if ever a shock to the system was needed then ‘Down To Earth’ will surely provide it.
From the opening grinding riff of ‘Gets Me Through’ it’s obvious that the double O is going to provide us with this years nostalgia trip to when Metal was all about stadium sized riffs and an unmistakable voice , and not playing whatever seems fashionable this week. This is just drums, guitar, bass and that unmistakable voice, the way Heavy Metal was invented to be.
There a many factors that attribute to the success of this record, but the main credit must go to the backing band assembled by the Osbourne Empire. Ex-Suicidal Tendencies bass God Robert Trujillo, the hardest hitting drummer known to man Mike ‘Puffy’ Bordin and the real jewel in the crown, Mr Zakk Wylde. Let’s face it the guy can pummel out a gargantuan riff with his own Black Label Society so the prospect of providing the soundtrack to Ozzy’s solo career was always one of mouth-watering proportions. Needless to say, the goods were well and truly delivered. Inevitably, there’s always the stomach churning ballads that always manage to sound like a Peter Criss led Kiss number, 'Down To Earth' is no exception to this, but it’s when Ozzy’s crew begin to rock like bastards that they strike the gold. ‘That I Never Had’ strolls in on a wave of feedback before kicking the ass of everything in sight with a pile-driver of a riff before that inimitable voice comes in adding that boost of star quality and ‘Facing Hell’ is up there challenging the likes of ‘Suicide Sollution’ and ‘Perry Mason’ for the best guitar work on an Osbourne solo outing. ‘Junkie’ manages to capture an Alice In Chains soaked rhythm and still sound unmistakably like Ozzy while ‘Black Illusion’ sounds like Sabbath at their most poignant.
Ozzy has made a record that more than lives up to his name and the anticipation that surrounds it. Skip the ballads and whack out the denim, there’s nothing quite like Ozzy in full flow. He’s the God Father of Metal, got more money than he knows what to do with, a travelling metal fest, the adoration of millions and a new bad-ass solo record. Could life for the Ozzman get any better?
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