Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fate Of The Metal Gods

Ozzy Osbourne

Let's start with the bad news. For all I can say about this album, the one positive is that the title is apropos. It did make me want to Scream at Ozzy.

"Get away from Kevin Churko and get a new writing partner!" or "Who is Gus G and why him?"

This is easily Ozzy's most disappointing album of new material in two decades. It is just really uninspired. It is a shame because the song that Ozzy contributed vocals (also co-written by Churko) to the Slash compilation should have been a good portent. With Velvet Revolver in limbo and Slash with no real permanent gig, that would seem to be a great partnership. What Ozzy needs is a true musical partner, a visionary in the vein of Randy Rhoades (hard to come by, I realize). Mr. Pinched Harmonics Zakk Wylde managed to make at least one amazing and a few other solid albums as the foil for the Prince Of Darkness. The first with Wylde, No Rest For The Wicked, would be the aforementioned last big disappointment. So perhaps it is unfair to place much blame on Gus G as he didn't write a note on the album. He is little more than a hired hand at this point. It is also no coincidence that the band's sound suffers since the rhythm section came directly from Rob Zombie, who himself is in a big-time musical slump.

Even 2007's Black Rain delivered some classic, signature Ozzy tracks. Every one of his albums has at least that one great song. Until now. There's no "Bark At The Moon," no "Fire In The Sky," or even a "Gets Me Through," here. Like shock rock disciples Zombie and Marilyn Manson, Osbourne has become guilty of being uninteresting.

Track Grades:
  1. Let It Die - 6.5
  2. Let Me Hear You Scream - 4.8
  3. Soul Sucker - 6.2
  4. Life Won't Wait - 7.7
  5. Diggin' Me Down - 7.0
  6. Crucify - 6.7
  7. Fearless - 6.0
  8. Time - 8.0
  9. I Want It More - 7.4
  10. Latimer's Mercy - 6.1
  11. I Love You All - 5.3
Overall Grade = 6.52

Deth Red Saboath
Evilive/The End Records
LP (Import)/CD

Now for the good news: Evil Elvis is back with his most consistent album since Danzig 4p (not counting 2007's stellar Lost Tracks Of Danzig comp). As always, the true album highlights are when Glenn's voice is used as a weapon, not just a blunt instrument. The leadoff track, "Hammer Of The Gods," is perhaps the best album track since 1993's "How The Gods Kill,". It does go decidedly downhill from there but that is only because of the incredible heights of that track.

The rest of the album is altogether solid, not necessarily eternal stuff, but nice. The obvious issue overall is the production and mix. Though he has the greatest voice in metal (now that Ronnie James Dio has passed), Glenn Danzig has preferred to almost drown out his voice on every album that he has produced. Rick Rubin knew what he had on those first four classic albums. Like his later work with Johnny Cash, Rubin tried to keep a sparse arrangement, allowing his electric frontman to truly shine as the centerpiece of every track. As Danzig became more and more enamored with electronic influences, the more his voice was hidden and manipulated to the point where it almost wasn't recognizeable. While there are not a lot of effects on his voice this time, Danzig has kept the general sound of Deth Red Saboath sludgy. This isn't Tool where Maynard James Keenan and the band have gone on record as saying that the vocals are just another instrument in the mix and shouldn't be front and center. This is Danzig. Glenn is the main attraction and should allow himself to be that. If and when he comes back to that notion, as long as he keeps writing songs this impressive, that is a recipe for a classic.

Track Grades:
  1. Hammer Of The Gods - 9.9
  2. The Revengeful - 8.0
  3. Rebel Spirits - 7.7
  4. Black Candy - 7.7
  5. On A Wicked Night - 7.8
  6. Deth Red Moon - 7.3
  7. Ju Ju Bone - 8.1
  8. Night Star Hel - 7.5
  9. Incanticle - 7.0
  10. Seasons Of Pain - 8.5
  11. Left Hand Rise Above - 8.3
Overall Grade = 7.98

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