With recent news reports focusing on Ozzy Osbourne‘s health problems, there are few sadder reminders of mortality than there have been recently. All the more reason, it seems, to pour everything into his twelfth solo album, ‘Ordinary Man’, on which the Prince Of Darkness has a star studded cast on board; Duff Mackagan and Chad Smith are on bass and drums respectively, to name a few.
‘Straight To Hell’ is the most welcome opening you could’ve asked for. It’s sonically as close as it gets to Black Sabbath, features a knowing “Alright now” and a fun riff that commands the song, as well as Osbourne‘s signature theatrics coming to the fore. For a lot of other artists, lyrics like “I’ll make you defecate” followed by maniacal laughter would be a bit of an embarrassment, but to many it’s the idiosyncratic Ozzy that we know and love.
Yet, in spite of how much he sounds like he’s having fun, ‘Goodbye’ sets the scene for what will come later, especially with the lyrical themes. References to death and sitting in purgatory are on display, and the song’s title alone seems self-explanatory enough.
The master of the big power ballad, Elton John, is on board for the album’s title-track, and this song certainly delivers on that front, offering further poignancy. With the lyrics in this song and ‘Under The Graveyard’ continuing to reflect on what will happen when he passes on to the pearly gates, it’s no wonder that many are suggesting that this is his swansong.
‘Eat Me’ is another fun track driven by Chad Smith, who nails the laid-back-but-commanding groove in the style of Bill Ward, and this has domineering guitar work to boot. And ‘Holy For Tonight’, assisted by a choir, is as emotional as it gets.
‘It’s A Raid’ helps to up the ante as we near the record’s end. Though it’s a little on the clunky side at times, and it could perhaps do without the over-production of Andrew Watt, the sense of fun still pervades. Post Malone‘s feature surprisingly doesn’t feel forced or incongruous either.
The bonus track inclusion of ‘Take What You Want’, a Post Malone and Ozzy Osbourne collaboration from last year may raise some eyebrows, but whatever you think of this, it’s symbolic of the earth-shattering, transcendental impact that Osbourne‘s career has had on the world.
Musically, this is strong enough, but you still feel it will only really be Ozzy Osbourne die-hards putting this album high on their end-of-year list. Nevertheless, ‘Ordinary Man’ is a fun, interesting journey, albeit leaving you with a bittersweet feeling. If this really is his final bow, it’ll certainly have been on a high.