Ozzy Osbourne - Ordinary Man
Sony BMG Music Entertainment
Heavy Metal
11 songs (49:26)
Release year: 2020
Ozzy Osbourne
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

The news from earlier this year that Ozzy Osbourne had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease was sobering for fans. Though no longer a death sentence, the illness is still a serious and incurable condition that can destroy even a strong personality like Ozzy's, and it makes you wonder if Ordinary Man is to be his final album. It would be a shame, not least because it isn't a terribly good record; fans of the earliest, most heavy metal releases from Ozzy will be used to being disappointed by his later solo albums, yet some will look back on the Zakk Wylde and Gus G eras with nostalgia given the line-up here! Ozzy is joined by producer and guitarist Andrew Watt (producing the album and playing guitar, unsurprisingly) Duff McKagan (ex-Guns N Roses, Velvet Revolver) on bass, and Red Hot Chili Pepper Chad Smith on drums - perhaps not the most heavy metal of line-ups, but a solid enough band and more than decent backing for a commercial album like this. The tracks with rappers are, of course, the worst parts of Ordinary Man, both Travis Scott and Post Malone (kids and their invented music genres, eh?) appearing on Take What You Want and just the latter on It's A Raid, a noisy, thrashy racket more shouted than sung that is easily the worst song on the album.

And yet there are moments here that approach greatness. Sure, Ozzy has always had a gloomy streak that came to the fore on plenty of past songs like Waiting for Darkness, yet the knowledge of his medical condition gives the likes of Goodbye with lyrics including "sitting here in purgatory/not afraid to burn in hell" an extra poignancy. Opener Straight to Hell is the heaviest thing present, a decent enough rocker driven by the nicely heavy riffs (give them their due, McKagan and Smith are more than talented musicians and make a solid rhythm section here) and whether down to studio tricks or not, Ozzy himself sounds terrific. A guest solo from Saul 'Slash' Hudson is simply icing on the cake. Under the Graveyard is even better, a pounding Sabbath-y rocker with doom-laden guitars and one of the best performances from Ozzy on the album, the triumphant chorus as infectious as the man's songs have ever been. And yes, Elton John appears on the title track, a shamelessly mawkish piano-driven ballad, again about death ("when the lights go down it's just an empty stage") yet the pop icon's voice works well next to Ozzy's and it is effective in emotional impact.

Sadly, as with most recent Ozzy albums, the rest is a mixed bag. Scary Little Green Men is downright bizarre but rhythmic and catchy enough and features a guest spot from Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello. And we get some harmonica and nicely sludgy riffing on cheeky downtuned rocker Eat Me but grunge-y ballad Today is the End is utterly forgettable, as is orchestral-backed Queen-y ballad Holy for Tonight - at nearly fifty minutes long, the album could have used some serious trimming. You get the impression that no idea was left on the studio floor for being too out-there or surplus to requirements, and although this makes for an entertaining listen, long-term fans will not be pleased. A better album than expected, perhaps, but a frustratingly familiar experience overall. Ozzy is one of our few remaining metal legends, and deserves a better send-off than this.

Killing Songs :
Straight to Hell, Ordinary Man, Under the Graveyard, Eat Me
Goat quoted 65 / 100
Other albums by Ozzy Osbourne that we have reviewed:
Ozzy Osbourne - Scream reviewed by Marty and quoted 74 / 100
Ozzy Osbourne - Black Rain reviewed by Jeff and quoted 66 / 100
Ozzy Osbourne - Bark At The Moon reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 69 / 100
Ozzy Osbourne - Diary Of A Madman reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 80 / 100
Ozzy Osbourne - Blizzard Of Ozz reviewed by Aleksie and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 8 reviews click here
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