REVIEW: Ozzy Osbourne – Scream (2011 tour edition)

OZZY OSBOURNE – Scream (2011 tour edition)

If you liked Ozzy’s previous album, the quite good Black Rain, then I think you might like Scream even better. As everybody knew, it was Ozzy’s first new studio album of original material without Zakk Wylde since he joined the band. (Jerry Cantrell did play on the perfectly awful covers album Under Cover.) Many wanted to know, “Is Gus G any good?”

Yup.

Ozzy’s never had a bad guitar player, and Gus G is a speed demon. I don’t know alot about the guy, but he seems to emulate Zakk with those “Wylde” bends, yet he also has this fast neo-classical vibe. If you hear that Ozzy live EP that came around the same time (iTunes Festival 2010) you will find that he really nails a Zakk-like vibe on the old Ozzy stuff. On the Sabbath classics, he does justice to Iommi’s chunky riffs. And he’s fast…really fast. In other words, he is kind of the best of all worlds. I’m not saying he’s better than Zakk, because personality goes a long way.  I’m just telling you what I hear.

SCREAM_0002Songwise, Ozzy wrote the album again with Canadian producer Kevin Churko, with some co-writes by Adam Wakeman. Churko also played drums even though Tommy Clufetos was credited. I really like Scream, and I can’t say there’s anything weak on it.  I’ve had a chance to live with it for a few years and I still enjoy it.  Maybe a couple filler tracks here and there, but nothing I hated. Most of the rhythms are chunky and staggered, gated like some nu-metal band but still well within the realm of Oz. The excellent “Soul Sucker” and “Diggin’ Me Down” in particular emphasize this modern sound.  I happen to like both songs a lot.

Yet there are surprises on here. I wouldn’t call them “ballads” per se, but “Time” and “Life Won’t Wait” change the pace. “Time” re-emphasizes Ozzy’s old love of the Beach Boys with its lush “ooh, ooh” backing vocals. “Life Won’t Wait” is a softer, bass-driven mid-tempo rocker with an amazing chorus as only Ozzy can deliver. The bass line really reminds me of another song, “Take a Picture” by Filter.

The rest of the album is heavy, maybe Ozzy’s heaviest. At times it reminded me of Zombie, at others, Sabbath. In general though it is identifiably Ozzy. “Let Me Hear You Scream,” the lead single, is a fast heavy Ozzy rocker designed for firing up the concert crowd. While Scream does not worm its way into your noggin the way Blizzard of Ozz did, it’s still a pretty good record. Ozzy seems very proud of it, and rightly so.

Lyrically, Ozzy’s in familiar territory. His lyrics to me are always underrated (whether he writes them or not). On Scream, he has tracks for his beloved audience as always: “Let Me Hear You Scream” and the touching outro “I Love You All”. On others he’s talking about religion. “Diggin’ Me Down” asks the question, how long must we wait for Jesus Christ to come back? “Crucify” seems to be about crooked preachers again, or perhaps just those who prey upon the desperate.

SCREAM_0004This being Ozzy, a “tour edition” was released not too long after I bought the original. In fact, I bought Scream as a digital download just to get the bonus track “One More Time”, a heart-racing rocker with a great tempo. I also bought this album on Japanese import to get the “Jump The Moon” (not really exceptional) bonus track. Hindsight is always 20/20, and I should have learned from the past album, Black Rain. It too had bonus tracks for different markets, and it too was reissued with all bonus tracks intact on some kind of tour edition.  So Ozzy’s done it again, with this “tour edition” designed to promote his American tour. You can tell by the missing black flag, now replaced with an American banner. Ozzy has also stuck on a “new” song called “Hand of the Enemy” which to me wasn’t as good as the rest of the material on the album. Besides that, there are four live tracks: “Let Me Hear You Scream”, “Bark At The Moon”, “No More Tears” and the Sabbath classic “Fairies Wear Boots”.  This is the second released live version of “Let me Hear You Scream”, though this is the first version available on a physical release.   All four live tracks are great, with Ozzy’s newest band playing competently with their own flavour. Best of the live tracks is “Fairies Wear Boots”, on which Gus G perfectly captures the guitar riff. Plus it’s a song that Ozzy plays less frequently, so that’s a bonus.

I also bought this album on double vinyl. The vinyl edition omits the live songs, but includes an exclusive single edit of “Life Won’t Wait”. So in total, I ended up with Scream four times!  (I gave the Japanese import to my friend Peter.)

4/5 stars

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39 comments

    1. Really eh? I liked a good solid half of Ozzmosis, I felt it was 1/2 a great Ozzy album and 1/2 filler, but the good songs are so good that I like the album overall. Old LA Tonight, man what a song! I Just Want You…See You On The Other Side…

      Anyway I would say that Scream is the best one since No More Tears.

      One of these was a gift so technically I bought it three times. If I had known you back then I’d have been happy to send you one of them!

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      1. I’ve seen it selling for £3 and all not been able to bring myself to buy it so I think it’s just over for Ozzy and me!

        There are always a few decent songs here and there. Ozzmosis did have some frustratingly good tunes like you say but not enough to save it for me. I guess there just comes a point where I have to decide I’ve lost interest.

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        1. Yup, I get that. I’ve hit that wall with many artists. And I’ve come back from that wall with some too.

          You know what’s funny, you know what a completist I am. There are two Ozzy albums I don’t own, at all. Down to Earth and Under Cover. I’ve never owned either. I hate them that much.

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        2. Really? I’m surprised by that. I don’t blame though because they are pretty terrible… is Under Cover not one of the discs in the box set though?

          It is like hitting a wall. I have come back with some but it’s hard for me to believe Ozzy’s capable of winning me back at the moment. But you never know!

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        3. Technically Under Cover is sort of in the box set — I think four songs are different. I know you have to get both Under Cover and the box set to get all the songs.

          You did like the new Sabbath right?

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        4. To quote Lebowski, “That’s a bummer, man.”

          But I get it. I totally get it.

          I have a buddy who’s huge into Zakk Wylde. Almost named his son Zakk. But I haven’t been interested in Zakk Wylde in a dog’s age.

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        5. I did follow BLS for a while through some ups and downs. Not heard anything since… Umm.. Shot To Hell? Might have got that title wrong. I don’t even know why I stopped following Zakk cause the last BLS albums I had were good but I think they were maybe all too similar. I feel like I’ve just heard enough now. And he was awful live. One of the worst shows I’ve ever seen.

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        6. All too similar for me. I bought the first two BLS, and then he did an acoustic BLS and I bought that one too. It’s OK but it felt a bit like “Book of Shadows Part II”.

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        7. I think you might prefer the BLS stuff that came later like Mafia and the one that had Stillborn on it (can’t remember the album name). The first two were poor by comparison. That was the best period of BLS in my opinion.

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        8. So had I actually! I had ignored a few albums but then bought Mafia on a whim and was really impressed by it and that had me working back. That said, I haven’t listened to any of those albums for ages!

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      2. Wow. I think Ozzmosis is one of the best Ozzy albums ever. Better than No More Tears even. Of course, it’s not up there with Blizzard Of Ozz or Diary Of A Madman, but I reckon it’s easily as good as Bark At The Moon or The Ultimate sin.

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        1. There are some songs on it that I don’t like. My Jeckyl Doesn’t Hide, My Little Man…I think he was definitely on the right track with that album, but could have used a few more good songs.

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        2. Yeah, I agree on that. Those two songs you mentioned aren’t top notch. But they are the only bad ones. But I love the hproduction and Deen Castronovo really rules the drums on that album.

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        3. Forgot about Deen. He was great on that album. I never understood why Ozzy took to trashing him so much in interviews after he was fired. Don’t get that.

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  1. On that BLS thread of conversation… I seem to really love that band, despite myself. I remember I bought 1919 Eternal and thought it was disappointing, and then got more and more albums anyway and thought they were all samey. Every album was about a 5.5/10, still more good than bad, but barely.

    Then I just never, ever stopped listening to them. I have all their albums now, and listen to them every day, and I couldn’t name you one song that I dislike. They’ve all grown on me to about a 7.5/10 now. If you were to ask me if I like BLS… I could only honestly reply “kinda” but if you asked me how often I listen to them, I’d have to say “Daily”… which you don’t really do to bands you only kinda like.

    Its a weird one. Same thing happened with Devildriver a few years back. Its hard to say they’re a favourite band of yours, but its hard to stop listening to them. Odd how the brain works.

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  2. Last Ozzy I bought was Down To Earth and can I recall anything from it…..nope…
    Scream was played to death on the radio here and I dunno just never got around to it ….
    I’m with HMO about saying that NMT was the last great Ozzy record and I’m with you Mike on the call that half of Ozzmosis was good.
    Don’t know why…..
    Back in 1992 when Ozzy at the time announced his NO More Tours we all freaked and bought tickets to his Minnieapolis show thinking that would be it and than when Ozzmois came out he called it his Retirement Suck Tour….hahaha…good sense of humour on that one.

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    1. I bought the Live At Budokan album that followed Down To Earth. So I know a couple songs like…uhhh…can’t remember any.

      I recall reading a scathing interview with Zakk about that album. He didn’t write anything on it; it was all outside writers and he was pissed. He was especially pissed when the producer took his guitar out of his hands and said, “Play it more like this.”

      Apparently he went to the label to complain about the album, and especially a song that was written by the Offspring. Needless to say the Offspring song isn’t on the album. But neither are any Zakk songs.

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      1. I remember reading Zakks comments as well….yeah he hated the songs..hated the producer ..was hating on everything about it….
        Well I guess every artist that has built up any kind of catalog is gonna lay a dud like….
        Triumph-SOK
        Kiss -Elder
        VH-3
        Boston- last three studio albums!!!
        Cheap Trick -Lap OF Luxury
        Def Leppard -X
        Bon Jovi- that country stank Fest record..

        These are my duds that just came to the top of my head as of right now ….having said that each of those albums I mentioned had a few good tracks but a lot of filler as well and as for Boston…Nuthin solid since Don’t Look Back from 1988….

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        1. I think it’s best to think of Boston as a two or three album band. Or a Greatest Hits band. But it’s best to think of them as past-tense regardless.

          Here’s some more:

          Stryper – In God We Trust
          Styx – Brave New World

          You know how easy it would be for me to just review those albums by drawing a picture of a poo?

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  3. I don’t really get on with Ozzy as a solo artist, apart from in a Greatest Hits sort of way; but I did hear and like chunks of Black Rain, but never quite pushed on and got this one.

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  4. Like the Overlord I only heard “Let Me Hear You Scream” when it came out and wasn’t too impressed. I may have to check this out though. I loved Ozzmosis and liked Black Rain.
    Didn’t care much for Down to Earth or what I heard of the covers album. Although, since I now know Jerry Cantrell played on it I may have to check that out too.

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    1. You may, but I’d suggest skipping the covers album even if you’re a Jerry fan. Spend the money on an Alice in Chain bootleg or something. Ozzy’s singing on that is akin to a cat stuck in the fridge.

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  5. This is an ok record. Pretty good, but forgettable, I’m afraid. I liked Black Rain better but the one too is forgettable. Thing is, after Ozzmosis, I don’t think Ozzy has made one great record. He made one really shitty, though – Down To Earth.
    About Gus G, he’s a really great guitar player, but too unoriginal. Randy, Jake, Zakk, even Brad Gillis had their own sound and their own way of writing music. Gus sounds like all of the above when called for. Ozzy really needs a great sidekick to make a great record and I don’t think Gus is the one. Ever heard Gus’ own band Firewind? great musicians, but boring standard heavy metal, forgotten the second the album stops. Boring.
    Black Label Society might be brutally crappy, but at least they don’t sound like anyone else.
    I’d give this album 6/10.

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    1. I’ve never heard Firewind. I’ve never really been curious about them. As a player, Gus has to develop his own personality. I think it will still come especially if he continues to work with Ozzy. Ozzy really tends to help a guitar player grow to reach their potential.

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      1. True. But does Ozzy still have a solo career going?
        Gus has a solo album, I Am The Fire, out soon. Mats Levén is singing on it. The first song was ok, but it didn’t really stick.
        What do you think?

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