Overall Score: 8/10 songs : 8/10 band: 8/10 consistency: 8/10 Pros: Ozzy feels fresh and revitalised with an album worthy of his legacy Cons: Tagging on the previous Post Malone feature feels out of place
Over the space of 50 years Ozzy Osbourne has been one of the most iconic, infamous and influential artists in Heavy Music. Whether it’s starting and pioneering the very genre itself with Black Sabbath or taking it to new heights and nurturing the next generation with his solo music and Ozzfest tours. In short, there isn’t a lot he hasn’t done and frankly at this stage in his career there isn’t a great deal for him left to do.
It seems fitting then that his latest (and possibly last) album Ordinary Man serves as both a passionate celebration of his very career as well as being a tender eulogy for a larger than life person that many of us have grown so fond of. Make no mistake about it, this album has some absolute rippers, but it also has some of Ozzy’s most contemplative and heartfelt music on it as well.
Ordinary Man was put together and recorded over a 10 day period with Producer Andrew Watt after Ozzy collaborated on the track Take What You Want on the last Post Malone album. This is an album full of vibrancy that crackles with energy that fizzes out of the speakers, bringing every single song to life. This sounds like a passion project and it shows in the songwriting and playing. It also helps that Ozzy’s band on the albums is made up of Watt, Chad Smith and Duff Mckagen giving a real garage rock feel to things.
Straight to Hell gets things off to a raucus start. Giving the Double O an opportunity to play Satan in his typical over the top style, it’s big, it’s loud and it has a huge stadium riff driving it all the way through. The closest thing this album has to a true classic Ozzy Osbourne single, and it kicks things off with a bang. This and Scary Little Green Men are the album’s highlights when it comes to big dumb fun Ozzy rock songs that you can switch your brain off and headbang to, and to be quite honest they are welcomed moments of levity in what is an otherwise emotionally heavy album.
All My Life and Goodbye are both some of the most well put together and personal to the point of confessional tracks that Ozzy has ever commited to tape. All My Life tells the story of a man staring into the eyes of his younger self as he looks back on this lonely and frankly chaotic life he has led. It’s an interesting way of framing the song which gives it a real sense of poignancy. Goodbye is a bit more up tempo, but also has a real darkness to it. Essentially a song about saying goodbye to the world and joining all of your friends in heaven. This isn’t the first time Ozzy has sung about his own mortality, but you sense with all of his mounting health issues and advanced years, songs of this nature cut a little closer to the bone than they have in previous years.
The album’s title track is also one of it’s crowning moments. A piano led ballad featuring Elton John that is reminiscent of Dreamer from 2001’s Down to Earth. This is a track that on paper should have you scratching your head, but actually works incredibly well. There is a real sincerity to what Ozzy is singing here and his voice is complimented by having Elton feature on the track. It’s also interesting to note that Ozzy himself once sung “I’m not the antichrist or the Iron Man, I’m not the kind of person you think I am” while he seems to be embracing who he is, was and could ever be and how fears the idea of dying and being considered an ordinary man. It’s a great dichotomy and really gives you an insight into who Ozzy is, how he sees himself and how he wants the world to see him as well.
There are some more highlights embedded in the latter half of the album. The album’s first single Under the Graveyard suffers a little bit from sounding a little bit too much like Take What You Want (a song which is also tagged onto the end of the album) and comes across as a little bland. Eat Me has a great bluesy feel to it and sounds like an obscure Aerosmith b side that happens to be about cannibalism.
Today is the End has a really doomy quality to it, with a sludgy doomy riff over the verses that gives way to a sky scraper sized chorus. This is another track that seems to be acknowledging that the end is near, in whatever sense that may be. It could be the apocalypse or ir could be a metaphor about the end of his career, it’s open ended and there for the listener to decide.
My only real criticism of the album, if there has to be one is that I personally wouldn’t have ended the album with two Post Malone features. The album’s second to last track and what I would consider it’s genuine closer It’s A Raid is fuzzed up, garage punk song inspired by a story from Ozzy’s youth. It’s fast, loose and sounds like it’s being played at a million miles an hour, and gives the Post Malone feature a low key verse in the middle, but it works incredibly well, because we already know they work well together and it sends the album off on an adrenaline fueled high. But then inexplicably the previously mentioned Take What You Want, the Post Malone track featuring Ozzy and Travis Scott randomly pops up as the album’s closer and its feels very out of place and is disjointed in the context of the album. It’s a bit of a misfire, especially since the song has been out for a while, it just smacks a little bit of trying to get a bit more crossover recognition for Post in the rock community rather than actually having any place on this album, but I digress.
Overall Ordinary Man is the most consistent and well put together Ozzy Osbourne album in the last 20 years and probably his best work since the criminally underrated Ozzmosis. If this is to be last album and it would be a safe bet to assume it is, then Ozzy will go out on a high note with an album that lovingly pays tribute to his career and that allows him to go out on his own terms and bid his fans a true goodbye.
It goes to show what a difference that working with people who have a true passion for Ozzy and his work can do to increase the quality of the material he puts out. There are no needless mastubatory solo’s to be found here as have been found on some of his previous work, there seems to be no phoning it on from Ozzy or any of the players. This feels alive, energetic and like it was created with respect and for the love of wanting to create something classic and that is worthy of the Ozzy Osbourne legacy that has proceeded it.
The new Ozzy Osbourne album, Ordinary Man is out now on Epic Records. Stream it on Spotify now.