Album Review: Ozzy Osbourne - 'Ordinary Man'
On his twelfth studio album, Ozzy Osbourne enlists Post Malone producer, Andrew Wotman, to create a record that could be the heavy metal legend’s last.
John Michael ‘Ozzy’ Osbourne is an undisputed icon amongst heavy metal fans, having had a hand in creating the genre with his early work in Black Sabbath and helping to keep it alive with his solo material throughout the last five decades. What’s always been interesting about Ozzy, however, is his ability to appeal to a wider audience; he’s sold millions upon millions of albums, had his own reality TV show and appeared on talk shows and radio frequently over the years. 2020 has begun no differently either, with Ozzy enlisting Post Malone, Andrew Wotman and Charlie Puth (among others) to help him craft what could be the icon’s last musical recording.
The album starts in an explosive way, with the track Straight to Hell. The song, with its rowdy riffs and ripping solo – provided by none other than Slash, of Guns ‘N’ Roses fame – feels like it could’ve been a long-lost track pulled right from Ozzy’s debut record, Blizzard of Oz. It does become very quickly apparent that Ozzy’s voice is not quite what it used to be, with excessive amounts of post-production tuning making the ‘Prince of Darkness’ sound slightly robotic at times.
All My Life continues in a similar fashion, sounding like a modern update of Ozzy’s signature ballads from the nineties with a strong hook and bluesy grooves, while Goodbye feels like his twisted way of saying that the end could be nigh. What comes as a great surprise on the album is Andrew Wotman’s skill on the guitar on almost every track; every riff and solo of his sounds genuine and pays homage to previous guitarists Ozzy has worked with, without ever feeling like a pastiche.
'It does become very quickly apparent that Ozzy’s voice is not quite what it used to be, with excessive amounts of post-production tuning making the ‘Prince of Darkness’ sound slightly robotic at times'.
Ordinary Man and Under the Graveyard are two standouts from the album that both see Osbourne looking back on his career and the impact he’s left on music. A welcome feature from fellow legend Elton John gives the title track even more emotional impact, with the orchestral outro adding a nice touch and capping off an excellent song. The tracks that follow – whilst not bad by any means – are fairly average late-era Ozzy tunes with nothing all that remarkable happening until the penultimate song. Although, it is worth mentioning that, despite the fairly mundane mid-section, this album is a marked improvement on pretty much anything Ozzy has released this century (bar his comeback Black Sabbath record 13).
It’s a Raid is a very strange song. I cannot think of a single element of the song that is conventionally good on its own; the mix is terrible, every single syllable Ozzy seems to sing has been produced to within an inch of its life, and the Post Malone feature is one of the strangest things to happen to metal in the last decade or so. However, that being said, this song is a real highlight, and one that has to be heard to be believed. There’s just an infectious energy that permeates through the song – you can really hear how much fun everyone involved was having while making the track.
'A welcome feature from fellow legend Elton John gives the title track even more emotional impact, with the orchestral outro adding a nice touch and capping off an excellent song'.
Take What You Want – a song previously released on Malone’s latest release – is also included and sees Ozzy take the backseat, providing the hook. His voice really suits the vibe, complimenting the song and is the reason Ordinary Man even exists. It was in these recording sessions that Ozzy came to meet Andrew Wotman – a partnership that seems to be extending to another album set for release later this year. However, with Ozzy’s recent ill health and cancellation of multiple tours, I can’t help but feel that this might be his last. If so, Ordinary Man would be a fitting end to the musical output of the metal legend; he might be going out, but he’s going out with a bang.