Monday, July 8, 2013

Ozzy Osbourne - Down to Earth (2001)

Everyone knows Ozzy Osbourne - or thinks they do. He is a musician that truly needs no introduction. This is his 8th solo studio album. The cover features a three faced figure (two of which are skulls), standing before a cross with arms raised. Inside there are numerous photos of Ozzy divided up into 9-square grids, dominating one half of the concertina fold cover, on the back of which are the lyrics. No wait, no lyrics, just a list of song titles and more pictures of Ozzy. I almost wonder if there's supposed to be some sort of interactive or 3d element to the images which seem to show Ozzy morphing into the 3-faced fellow, but it's all a bit deep and meaningful for my humble little brain. It IS an "enhanced" cd, which means there's an interview on it, but no actual music videos or anything really exciting and interesting.

We open with the self-exploration of "Gets Me Through" - slow piano and dancing flute before the bass and drums surge in, and Ozzy's vocals rasp out melodiously*:
"I'm not the sort of person you think I am - I'm not the anti-christ or the iron man..."
Chugging along at a regular pace, Ozzy sounds almost like he's trying to convince the listener that there ain't nothing that special about him and that he wants to be left alone.
Well, I doubt that is the truth, Mr Osbourne.

Keyboards rising, into the crash of the guitars as we chug into "Facing Hell". Again, the vocals seem a little pained, Ozzy's razor edge seems to be getting more pronounced as he's getting older.

Piano-laden melancholy, and we are into "Dreamer", in which Ozzy's vocals seem a little smoother, a little sweeter. One of the more radio-friendly tracks and undeniably beautiful.

Something a little more energetic now - "No Easy Way Out" in which Ozzy is pretty-much shouting the lyrics. The music is a raucous affair, moving into a smoother chorus, thick and slightly sludgy.

 "That I Never Had" is another perfectly acceptable, but not particularly inspiring rock song. The guitar solo is pretty good though - I believe Zakk Wyld had returned for this album.

Another Ballad in "You Know" - a very short piece indeed.

"Junkie" has a bitter edge to it, not surprisingly (also contains the "Explicit content" warned by the cover). The music is churning, angry, flavoured with tension. A personal song, revealing Ozzy's own struggles with drugs and alcohol:
"...A bird with one wing who's trying to fly..."
Another melancholically wrenching piece "Running Out of Time". I guess Ozzy is starting to understand that he isn't getting any younger.
"Just another broken hero..."
"Black Illusion" surges in with dark and sludgy force.

More melancholy in "Alive":
"What keeps me alive is dreams..."
Sounds like we're getting back into the introspection here, Ozzy. Not even sure if this counts as singing for the most part, he's almost just speaking the lines.

Dramatic start to "Can You Hear Them?" Chugging, clapping rhythms, swelling in force. Vocals the typical Ozzy, double-recorded**, giving it that slightly echoey quality.

As Ozzy gets older, his songs have become more mature, more depressing and more personal. This is darker than my previously reviewed "Ozzmosis" (which felt more introspective). The songs seem heavily laden with shadows and darkness, and even the sweeter, ballad numbers have a bittersweet edge to them. His vocals have worn a little, become harsher with age and it all rather lacks the fun energy of Black Sabbath and earlier songs like "Bark at the Moon". Not remarkedly original or different. Kinda dull, really.

Let's go for 6/10.

* an oxymoron of an adjective+adverb? Well, not if you've listened to Ozzy.
** I'm guessing, but my musical knowledge in this manner is limited. So, feel free to deny this claim if you know better ^^

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