25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2007
Ozzy's latest album Black Rain, Is his best in several years. First off, his voice is stronger and clearer on this one since No More Tears. Compare this with his Under Cover album and the difference is obvious.
1. Not Going Away - I think this song is the weakest thing on the album and one of Ozzy's worst opening songs of all. Odd also since the first two songs are essentially about the same thing.
2. I Don't Wanna Stop - Great single and classic sounding Ozzy tune. Way better than Not Going Away.
3. Black Rain - Highlight of the album. War Pigs for the new era. Political lyrics and how long has it been since you've heard a harmonica on an Ozzy tune?
4. Lay Your World On Me - Good ballad, good lyrics. Really needs an epic No More Tears Zakk solo in it though.
5. The Almighty Dollar - Another highlight. Very bass heavy and almost funk sounding during the verses for an Ozzy tune. Blasko does well on this one. His bass is very prominent on the whole album.
6. 11 Silver - Fast song about crystal meth. Pretty cool.
7. Civilize The Universe - Good song, nothing really stands out but good anyway.
8. Here For You - The obligatory "I Love My Wife" ballad.
9. Countdown's Begun - Another one of the best on the album. Possibly Zakk's best solo on the album.
10. Trap Door - Cool Zakk riff but it's kind of repetative on the lyrics.
Bonu Tracks :
11. I Can't Save You - I Don't know why this was left off the US release it's fast and yould have made a killer opening song to the album.
12. Nightmare - Another song that shouldn't have been a b-side. Sounds more like Ozzy from the 80's which kind of mixes the album up a little.
Overall an excellent album with little to complain about and well worth getting the Japanese version for the bonus songs. The album is also in a jewel case with the booklet and the very cool cover art that's way better than the US packaging.
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2007
John Michael Osbourne (a.k.a. Ozzy Osbourne, Ozz, The Madman, The Godfather of Metal, The Prince of F'ing Darkness, etc.) Is fifty-eight years old, and thirty-six of those years have been spent making heavy metal. Recent rumors started by wife Sharon of Ozzy retiring, and rumors of this summer's Ozzfest being his last, fans were starting to wonder what would come of The Ozzman. But he has recently dismissed all retirement rumors, and with ninth studio album, this year's "Black Rain," and song titles like "Not Going Away" and "I Don't Wanna Stop," it appears Ozzy doesn't see any end in sight for his long and legendary career.
So what is his secret of lasting so long in the music industry? It's quite simple, really: Write good songs. Ever since debuting with Black Sabbath way back in 1970, Ozzy and his band have written quality, complete songs that combine excellent, crunchy riffs, killer solos, and a tight rhythm section, with memorable hooks, a keen ear for melody, and (rare in this day and age) good, well-thought-out and often thought-provoking lyrics.
"Black Rain" marks a return for Ozzy, since it has been six years since his last solo studio album, 2001's "Down To Earth." And boy, is it great to have him back! Sometimes there's nothing else in the world like a great Ozzy disc. "Black Rain" may come up a bit short in surprises, and there may be no immediate classics (i.e. 1980's "Crazy Train," 1981's "Over The Mountain," etc.), but so friggin' what? This album rocks! Listening to this album literally had me smiling from ear to ear!
"Black Rain" covers all of the bases you want from a modern day Ozzy album, so everybody who is or was at one time a fan of his music should be very satisfied with this release. The first song, the aforementioned "Not Going Away," begins with longtime guitar god Zakk Wylde unleashing one of his hallmark killer, meaty, dazzling, terrifically brutal, and almost trance-inducing headbanging riffs. The rest of the song is a bit repetitious from a lyrical standpoint, but it is of note for its wailing solo, ominously moaning guitar noise, creepy whispers of the title phrase. Lead single "I Don't Wanna Stop," has more strong, crunching, churning, grinding licks, a bobbing rhythm, a winding solo, and a very catchy chorus. Songs like the title track and "Countdown's Begun" are fairly mid-tempo, but they gradually ascend to higher speeds (plus the latter also features a positively blazing solo). Next, there are the obligatory ballads: "Lay Your World On Me" is an especially dreamy tune with acoustic strumming, a few keys, a grumbling bass line, and lyrics that are downright sweet without being sappy. (Examples: "I'm here if you need a friend," "Give me your strength/give me your anger," "Let me be your rock/ I can be the pillar of strength that you need," and "Lay your world on me/I can take the weight.") The album's second ballad, "Here For You," isn't as effective as the first, but it's still very listenable, and includes a driving piano and a nicely melodic solo.
Elsewhere, "11 Silver" is a more up-tempo piece complete with a very catchy rhythm (including a chant of "Hey! Hey! Hey!"), and a remarkably ripping solo. The album's centerpiece, "The Almighty Dollar," is also the longest song on here. It boasts a similar, and equally-as-great-and-intense riffing as "Not Going Away," and is also highlighted by an irresistibly hooky and infectious chorus. And lastly, the set closer, "Trap Door," is bolstered by almost thunderous guitars, catchy singing, and a very deep, heavy, adherent and memorable groove.
So yeah, this is good stuff. "Black Rain" isn't a mindblowing album, but it is indisputably awesome that Ozzy can still turn out music of such high quality after so many years. This is a very strong, solid, cohesive, and focused album (ten tracks and forty-six minutes in length); it is one of the Ozzman's better releases of the past sixteen years, and is highly recommended to all fans.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2007
Regardless of whether or not the lyrics are included in the disk (I have been deciphering Ozzy lyrics for about 30 years, back in the days when no albums ever came with lyrics...you learned the words by playing the songs over and over again), this CD is excellent. And whoever says this album is lower quality because it doesn't have all the plastic covers and other things to clutter up the landfills, get a life. Every artist should start thinking of using biodegradable products to package their disks in. Don't you think there is a message there? And don't forget the people who quickly label any song they don't like right off the bat as a "filler". Whatever. We all know what opinions are like, and that everyone has one.
On first listen, you might not realize what it is you are listening to, but once you listen again you begin to see how remarkable ozzy is and always has been. His message hasn't really changed over the years, but he has a way with putting a new twist on an old phrase....for example,the line "Cross my heart until I die" from the song "Lay your world on me". This song has the soul and sound to be as big a favorite as "Mama, I'm coming home".
There are some excellent concert quality songs, as well. Songs that have the pump to wire up a live audience, and songs that compell you to sing along.
Everybody is a critic these days. Ozzy is beyond their labels or categories. Ozzy is Ozzy, saying what he came to say and doing it in his own way. Some of the songs are a little harder than his earlier songs, one of them includes a harmonica, and several of them condemn the war. He has condemned war since his Black Sabbath days, and that message is still the same. In Civilize the Universe, he says "I'm alive, watching better turn to worse" and Black Rain asks "Why are the children all marching into the desert to die?"
If you love Ozzy, you probably suffered through some of his "Under Cover" album and wound up liking it anyway. This album is a serious album, with alot of thought behind it, intelligent lyrics, and definately something for everybody. If you are an Ozzy fan, you WILL LOVE this album. My 16 year old daughter, who does not particularly like Rock and Roll, has even found a couple favorites here. It's not that Ozzy is back, Ozzy has never been gone.
Buy this album, think for yourself and don't just follow along with what the person before you said about it. This one deserves 5 stars. Instead of thinking you are THE MUSIC EXPERT who speaks for everyone else, sit back, enjoy the music, and thank whatever god you believe in that Rock and Roll will never die.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2007
This is one of the best Metal offerings of the last 30 years! Its both fresh and old school at once. Filled with both dread and hope, intensely personal, but never egotystical Ozzy opens up some very private trials and tribulations in his life and also expresses his concerns about the world we are leaving behind for our grandchildren, all in a very down to earth intelligent, not preachy manner that makes him seem like one of us rather than as if he sees himself as a saviour. Or some mega rock star messiah ... He always seems amazed at his own success and longevity. Very refreshing!
Musically it is solid, not overly produced , almost simple but still rocking relentlessly, plus Ozzy plays harmonica again... cool! It reminds me more of an early Sabbath offering than a solo Ozzy one, his footing seems more like that of a new artist offering his work to be judged than that of an icon resulting in a work of substance rather than fodder for fans who will accept the work on the name of the artist alone.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
First off, let me say something about the bad cover for the US version. The US version is a paper sleeve with no liner notes, and no cover art. It's a real bad package - maybe the cingular worst design I've ever seen in the history of CD's, and I've been buying them for 20 years now. The grey image is what you get when you order it in the US, although it's not as gray as that in reality, it's a brown color. If you want the good one with the good cover art, buy an import, as the US version doesn't have that (or any liner notes). They did make the CD booklet available as a free download from Ozzy's site about two weeks after the album came out. I actually have three versions of this. I have the US standard version, which was sent to me due to my running my Sabbath site, I have the iTunes US version which I pre-ordered to get the extra track, and I have the Japanese version which a friend of mine in Japan sent. So I have all the tracks mentioned below, but wow was this release a pain in the backside to complete due to all this.
Anyway, the album review itself.
Not Going Away: A nice chugging slow to medium tempo song. Lyrically it kind of makes me feel like a sister song to "Gets me Through" from his last album. I think it's a good album opener. The sequence with different repeated "I'm not going away" lyrics at 3:15 sounds like something from a Marilyn Manson album, actually. It is plauged though with the Zakk Wydle "Wah wah" effect that we've been hearing since 1988. I like Zakk. I think he's a great guitarist for Ozzy. However, that "wah wah" sound needs to go. It's in a ton of his songs. I was going to count them in this song, but gave up after a bit. The first two of this effect appear at 0:23 & 0:34 of the song. This is more a general remark about Zakk than about this particular song.
I Don't Wanna Stop: The first single. This took some flak from some folks online about not being "Ozzy" enough. I'm not sure what the heck that means. This song is plagued even more with Zakk's "Wah wah" (0:38, 0:43. 1:25, 1:33 to start) than the last song. It's not the most imaginative song, but it's not a pile of suck that some people like Eddie Trunk have made it out to be. It actually now that I think about it also lyrically related to Not Going Away and "Gets Me Through". Probably the most "single" feeling of any of the songs. This song has also turned up as a free video download from Xbox 360's Marketplace. It's also on the soundtrack for the videogame Madden NFL 08. I also love the bass intro that starts off the song.
Black Rain: Starts off with a harmonica. I wonder if that's Ozzy playing that. Not quite like the old Sab track "The Wizard", but a surprise to hear that on a modern Ozzy tune. This song is about oil, and the casualties of humans the oil has caused as far as I can tell. I've also read rumours that the album's cover art which is about "Black Rain" is why the US version has no good cover art, and is just a paper sleeve, although I don't know how true that is. But as a song, it works. It's not a terribly complex song. It's got some pretty simple musical lines, but it seems to work well enough for me.
Lay Your World On Me: I've seen a few reviews of this album that rag on this for being a slow emotional, ballady song. Uh, do these people know of Ozzy's history? Slow Down, Sabbath's Changes? He's been doing songs like this since 1972. In a post "Osbournes TV show" era, I guess these kind of things make him seem like an easier target. For that reason I dislike when people rag on him just because it's an emotional ballad song. Now the song itself doesn't do much for me. It might be my least favorite, but not jus because it's a ballad. I just don't care for the tune much at all.
The Almighty Dollar: The longest track on the album by time (just a few seconds under 7 minutes). An ironic choice for an Ozzy track, as both he and his wife are masters at generating that. But that's a bitch for another time. This has an odd bass intro that doesn't sound like it would have existed on earlier Ozzy solo material, and DEFINITELY not on a Sabbath track. Then the bass intro keeps going for the first minute of the song before much else happens. An oddly constructed song. The bass intro seems to not match the style of the "main part" of the song. Ozzy's vocal delivery on this song seems to be all over the place - parts of it seem like "screaming". Not one of my favorites. It's not bad, and I don't skip it when it comes on, but not one of my favorites outside of the rather "funky" bass line in the intro. It just never seems to "get going" for me despite it being the longest song on the album.
11 Silver: According to interviews, this song is about crystal meth addiction. It's also a nice faster paced song, and shows why Zakk is a good guitarist. He's much better than that "wah wah" drivel I posted about further up. One of the better tracks, although I have a harder time following the lyrics than others. I'm writing this as I'm listening to the song, and to be honest, as much as I like it I'm having a hard time thinking of much to say beyond "good song!". I do like the combination of the guitar riff and the bass track. They are mixed very well together in this song. Like it a lot.
Civilize the Universe: Another track with a bass line that stands out more than usual. You know it seems to be a theme with this album. I wonder if that's due to the bassist himself, or if it's due to the way the album was mixed. Don't know - I'm not THAT analytical about my music. I just enjoy it. Another song where the effect of using multiple vocal tracks at the same time works very well. I like this one a lot, even if I have no clue what the heck it is about. :)
Here for You: The second ballad on the album. This one has more of a classic piano sound. It feels like a spiritual successor to the aforementioned "So Tired". It's a bit better than Lay Your World was, but it doesn't do much for me, actually. Two ballads on this album, and they're both strikeouts with me. But I don't dislike his ballads. These just don't do anything for me, although this one is better than the other one.
Countdown's Begun: One of the better tracks on the album. I like the simpler guitar intro to the song. Has a nice basic feel, but the song gets going pretty quickly after that. Has a nice good basic riff that drives the bulk of the song. I enjoyed this a lot.
Trap Door: The basic album ends here. This is the last track on the "Regular" version of Black Rain. And wow - is it a great track to end the album with. Trap Door may very well be my favorite song on the album. I like everything about this. The speed, the lyrics, the guitar, the vocal delivery, etc.. This is a very VERY enjoyable song for me. "Nice and crunchy".
And now we get into the "extra" tracks. There were three extras which are/were available for this album. I know WHY these things are done, but they generally piss off fans, as the majority of people can't legally get all these songs. Anyway:
Nightmare: Nightmare is available in two places. You can get it on the Japanese version of the CD. You can also get it as a bonus track if you buy the album from iTunes. It starts off with a slow keyboard intro, but doesn't stay there, so the intro is somewhat misleading as to what the song is really like. The song doesn't do much for me. It's kind of bland. Wouldn't have bothered me if I didn't get it. It's another of those songs that isn't really "bad", but I just don't care for it.
Love to Hate: Love to Hate is probably the hardest of the three to get. It was only available to folks who pre-ordered Black Rain from iTunes. That's it. It's not anywhere else. If you go to buy the album after it was released, this track was not there anymore, so I expect this one will get pirated pretty good. Stupid decision. The song itself is quite good. In fact, I think it's the best of the three bonus tracks. Nice guitar riff. Nice vocal delivery by Ozzy. Shame most people won't ever get to hear this one.
I Can't Save You: The other exclusive track is available in two places. It's on the Japanese CD, and it's also a digital exclusive to MSN Europe. MSN Music in the US doesn't have the track, and I've already tried faking out the system to get the track, and I couldn't. Zakk's "wah wah" resurfaces on another track. It's a good track though. I can't find anything particularly exciting to write about it, but the chorus is fairly catchy.
I think I'll do with these bonus tracks on my ripped version on my HD that I do with albums that have these bonus tracks on them; rearrange the song order. For me, the Black Sabbath album Forbidden ends perfectly with the song "Kiss of Death". Tony Iommi's "Fused" album also ends perfectly with the track "I Go Insane", but the extra tracks change the feel of the album. To me, "Trap Door" is a great album ending, so that should be the 13th track. :) I'll probably stick these extras before Countdown's Begun. But I digress.
Despite my gaggle of negative remarks above, they're really just nitpicks. This is a great solid album. Only really one track I don't care for. I've seen it read where folks say this is Ozzy's best studio album in quite a few. Now I personally liked Down to Earth. I like Black Rain a lot. To be honest, after "The Osbournes", I wondered how relevant Ozzy would be given his descent from Rock icon into bumbling old fart (as portrayed on the show). Good thing that wasn't true, as he certainly can still make a decent rock record.
Go buy it. It's a good album, if it has a weird cover art choice for the US.
148 of 201 people found the following review helpful
You'd have to go back to 1980 ( Blizzard of Ozz ) to find an Ozzy studio solo album that had more than 3 songs on it that you just played over and over again. Of course, my statement is all a matter of opinion, but I'm willing to bet that only devout Ozzy fans would disagree.
Unfortunately, Black Rain and Ozzy's 2001 ( Down to Earth ) release are similar in that they have less than 3 compelling tracks each. Only Black Rain's first two tracks "Not Going Away" & "I Don't Wanna Stop" are classic Ozzy rockers; the other 8 tracks on Black Rain are typical Ozzy fillers.
Zakk Wylde's final comment in an interview that he and Ozzy gave in the July issue of Revolver Revolver [1-year] sums it all up perfectly: Zakk was asked how Black Rain sounds, and he said, "It sounds like a ******* Ozzy record, brother!" (The article is quite short and funny if you've got two minutes to spend with it at your local bookseller.) And Zakk's statement couldn't be more true. There are no surprises. Black Rain sounds just like you think it will too.
On Black Rain the awesome Robert Trujillo is out on bass and Rob "Blasko" Nicholson (of Rob Zombie fame) is in. The rest of the line up is Metal's best guitarist on the circuit, Zakk Wylde, and on drums with his second go-around is Mike Bordin.
Look, this review in no way reflects my total respect for Ozzy coming out at 60 years old to give us some more music, nor does it acknowledge the history that the man has given to Metal. And I apologize for that. (See my 5/8/2007 review of Ozzy's 2002 DVD Live at Budokan Ozzy Osbourne - Live at Budokan for a better perspective of the kind of Ozzy fan that I am.) But Black Rain just doesn't do it for me.
Sorry, fans. You may now proceed to hit the NO vote.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2007
I can't think of any other Ozzy album--with or after Black Sabbath, or with or after Randy Rhoads--that didn't prompt me to skip several tracks. Down To Earth, the Ozz's last album of original tunes, was particularly laden with mediocre material, despite what seemed to be nigh-desperate attempts by reviewers professional and amateur to find ways to praise it. Even The Ozzman Cometh, allegedly a "best of" compilation, seldom gets a complete play-through from me.
Black Rain is the exception. Much like (if you'll hang with an out-of-the-blue analogy) Casino Royale was the James Bond movie that *finally* was as good as we always wanted the other, mediocre Bond movies to be, Black Rain is the Ozzy album that *finally* is every bit as good as we wished all the other Ozzy albums would be.
Black Rain's rockers are unfailingly both heavy and engaging, and both its ballads convey genuine emotion without sounding sappy or overly trite. The tunes and the musicianship are top-notch, and the production is clear and precise without sounding either too slick or simply overdone.
Lyrically, the album is both smart and relevant. Ozzy has always been a more sensitive lyricist--politically, socially, and personally--than 90% of his competitors (metal and non-metal alike), and Black Rain sounds like Ozzy's crowning statement in all three areas, a warning in the first two, and a thank-you in the third.
If this is indeed Ozzy's final album of original material, I'm satisfied. Black Rain is easily my favorite of the Ozz's works, and it should cement his place as one of the few musicians of any genre to remain both popular and productive for not only a few years at the start of a career, but throughout.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2007
I can't belive how may people claim to be hardcore Ozzy fans, and then rip this album because there are 2 slower songs on it, which they say is out of character from "old" Ozzy, or they rip on the album for being political. Ozzy has been doing slow songs, and being political since Black Sabbath. Has anyone heard Goodbye to Romance, Changes, Revelation Mother Earth, Mama I'm Coming Home, Time After Time, Dee,...etc... all slow songs. Politcal!!! He has always bene political as was Sabbath. Go back and actually listen to the lyrics in the older songs.
On this album, there are some great guitar riffs and solos by Zakk, and Ozzy's voice sounds very strong. This isn't the type of album that's immediately catchy, and then you get sick of after two weeks. There's no major hit to warrant a 5 star rating. It's the type of album that you have to listen to about 10 or more times to fully digest and appreciate which is nice. If you want catchy and danceable, go listen to Fergie. Other than that it's pretty typical Ozzy. I think most True Ozzy fans will like it, and the people who have only heard Crazy Train, Paranoid, and Bark at the Moon, might be dissapointed. I have a news flash for you guys though, Ozzy isn't going to write another "Blizzard of Oz" AC/DC isn't going to write another "Back in Black" and Iron Maiden isn't going to write another "Number of the Beast"
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2007
You can tell all the way from Ozzy's vocals to Mike "Puffy" Bordin's drums that the producer of this album put everyone at ease so they could perform their best.
Great songs, great lyrics, great musicianship...buy it!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2007
It's funny, but when I heard the 1st single, 'I Don't Wanna Stop', I thought it was going to be similar to 'Down To Earth'. Rock, gloom, and doom--the great Prince of Darkness reduced to a one-note joke of his former self. Sure the tunes rock out, but it can get old. But being a fan of Ozzy as I was, I decided I'd give the whole record a fair shake. And wonder of wonders! There's actually some depth here; a few old-school rockers like 'I Don't Wanna Stop', 'I'm Not Going Away', and 'Trap Door'; a few mid-tempo message numbers like 'Black Rain', 'Civilize the Universe', and 'God Bless The Almighty Dollar'; and a ballad or 2 to tug at the old heart-strings: 'I'm Here For You' and 'Lay Your World On Me'. It won't change the world or revolutionize music, but it's not a bad effort; you just have to give it a chance.